Scouting Report: Wolves (9-9) at Thunder (11-3) | Dec. 1, 2013

by Mark Remme
Web Editor

Scouting Report: Wolves (9-9) at Thunder (11-3) | Dec. 1, 2013


Timberwolves at Thunder | 6:00 PM — Chesapeake Energy Arena

Where to Watch: Fox Sports North

Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM

A lot has changed since these to teams last faced off on Nov. 1. The Wolves started the season off hot, going 3-0, but have struggled as of late, losing five of six prior to last night’s 112-106 victory the Mavericks in Dallas on Saturday night.

The Thunder have been the exact opposite, sitting at 11-3 overall. The return of Russell Westbrook has changed the dynamic of the team for the better and has helped Kevin Durant take a bit of a break.

If the Wolves could go 2-0 against the Thunder during a one-month span, it would turn some heads, especially on the second night of a back-to-back. But it won’t be easy. OKC’s Chesapeake Energy Arena is widely considered one of the toughest venues to visit because of its electric crowd atmosphere, and the Thunder are feeding off that to the tune of an 8-0 home record so far this season.

Last Meeting

The two teams last faced off on Nov. 1 at the Target Center and the Wolves came away with a 100-81 behind 24 points and 12 rebounds from Kevin Love. Another big factor was Corey Brewer’s defense on Kevin Durant. Brewer limited Durant to just 13 points in more than 27 minutes of play. The only other Thunder player to hit double digits was Jeremy Lamb, who had 16 points off the bench.

The Thunder was without All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, who was out recovering from offseason knee surgery.

Nikola Pekovic finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Rubio added 14 points, 10 assists and five steals. Derrick Williams (now with Kings) and J.J. Barea led the bench, scoring 10 points each. The Wolves made it to the free-throw line 33 times compared to OKC’s mark of 19.

This Week’s Results

The Wolves got a much-needed victory in Dallas last night, beating the Mavs 112-106 at American Airlines Center—where Dallas had been 8-1 coming into the evening. Kevin Martin scored 27 points, while Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love each added 21. The Mavs cut Minnesota’s lead to 92-90 at the 6:33 mark, but the Wolves went on an 11-2 run to create separation. The Wolves shot 50 percent from the field for the second time this year.

Previous the that, the Wolves lost three straight games to Houston, Indiana and Denver, respectively.

The Thunder had quite the game on Friday night, as Russell Westbrook hit a corner 3-pointer with .1 left on the clock in overtime to give OKC a 113-112 win.

Westbrook led the Thunder with 34 points, seven assists and five steals. He did shoot the ball 25 times, though. Durant finished with 25 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. Ibaka also had a double-double, finishing with 18 points and 13 rebounds.

It was the team’s sixth straight win.

What To Watch: Corey Brewer vs. Kevin Durant

Durant will be looking to get some revenge against Brewer after the former Gator shut him down in their last meeting, holding Durant to 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting. It is the lowest-scoring game of Durant’s season—he hasn’t scored fewer than 19 points in any other game in 2013-14. That’ll be tough to replicate—Durant is averaging 28 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game.

But Brewer takes pride in being the Wolves’ top perimeter defender, and he’ll have the chance to showcase that once again against three-time scoring champ who is once again leading the NBA in scoring this year. Last time out, Brewer used his offense in order to wear Durant down. By running the floor and continuously moving in half court sets, Brewer forces his defender to stay with him, which ultimately forces them to use energy. In the meantime, Brewer is averaging 14.3 points per game this year.

With Westbrook back in the lineup, Durant won’t have to force as many shots, which could ultimately open things up for his squad offensively. Expect newly acquired Luc Mbah A Moute to get a look at Durant as well.

Injury Report

The Wolves will be without wing Chase Budinger (knee) and center Ronny Turiaf (elbow). Oklahoma City center Kendrick Perkins dislocated his finger on Friday night against the Warriors and is listed as day-to-day.

Probable Starters

  Timberwolves Thunder
PG Ricky Rubio Russell Westbrook
SG Kevin Martin Thabo Sefolosha
SF Corey Brewer Kevin Durant
PF Kevin Love Serge Ibaka
C Nikola Pekovic *Kendrick Perkins


*-Listed as probable for Sunday

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