Scouting Report: Wolves at Thunder

Alex Conover
Web Editorial Associate

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Wolves (20-31) at Thunder (39-15) — 7:00 PM Chesapeake Energy Arena 
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North, ESPN 
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM

View Timberwolves Game Notes

Got questions during tonight’s game? Send them to Wolves Radio via Twitter using the hash tag #WolvesRadio!

 

The Wolves took a week off for the All-Star Break, but they shook the rust off quickly as they took the lead and never let go on Wednesday night against Philadelphia. Winning 94-87, there’s plenty to look forward to in the second half of the season, including Oklahoma City tonight. Make sure to tune in on Fox Sports North or 830 WCCO-AM to catch the action. 

Oklahoma City Breakdown

The NBA’s second-most prolific offense (106.3 PPG) is spearheaded by the league’s current top scorer in Kevin Durant. Averaging a blistering 29 PPG, Durant appeared in his fourth-straight All-Star Game last weekend and shows no signs of slowing down. The scariest things about Durant’s scoring ability include his age (just 24) and that his 3-point shooting just gets better and better, with a .424 rate this year. He’s shooting 51 percent from the field, his highest average yet. We could go on and on about Durant’s prowess shooting the ball, but his teammates shouldn’t be overlooked, either.

Oklahoma City boasts another 24-year-old All-Star in Russell Westbrook, one of the league’s most athletic guards who is averaging 22.7 PPG and 8.1 APG. Although they lost ace sixth man James Harden, they replaced him with a solid piece in Kevin Martin, who is coming off the bench to add 15 PPG. The post is anchored by big man Serge Ibaka who ranks second in the NBA with 3.0 blocks per game.

Last Time Out: January 9, 2013

OKC shut the Wolves down in the second half and picked up a 106-84 win at Chesapeake Energy Arena in front of a sold out crowd. Feasting on 19 Minnesota turnovers, the Thunder never let Minnesota get comfortable in the second half and turned a seven-point halftime lead into a 26-point advantage in the fourth.

“We talked about really trying to control the tempo with our offense, go side to side and try not to get into an up and down type of game,” coach Terry Porter said. “But when we turn it over like that and the athletes they have, they get out and really convert and it becomes tough.”

Oklahoma City shot 58 percent in the third quarter, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range while the Wolves went 0-of-4 from behind the arc. And immediately out of halftime it appeared the Thunder were in position to create separation on the scoreboard.

“They got off to a good start, hit some 3s and we just weren’t able to recover,” guard Luke Ridnour said.

The Wolves got big nights from their starters, including 18 points from Shved and a double-double from center Nikola Pekovic. Luke Ridnour scored nine points and added six assists and four steals, and Andrei Kirilenko had 10 points, five rebounds and four assists. Derrick Williams was a spark off the bench, scoring 14 points and adding 11 rebounds on the night.

Key Matchup: Kendrick Perkins/Nick Collison and Derrick Williams

Although many media members and fans had predicted that Williams would not be in Minnesota after the trade deadline, no moves were made. Keeping Williams may be in part thanks to his recent production, as he has scored in double-digits in four of his last five contests. He has also been benefitting from elevated minutes, averaging 18.6 points in his last five games where he has played over 30 minutes. Kendrick Perkins will be assigned to guard Williams tonight unless his sprained knee is still bothering him, in which case Nick Collison will likely make the start. Can D-Will use his athleticism and newfound appreciation for the jumpshot to help propel the Wolves to an upset win? According to recent history, if he plays over 30 minutes, he should have a nice performance.

Injury report presented by TSR Injury Law

Andrei Kirilenko returned to the Wolves' lineup after recovering from a quad injury and recorded 36 minutes, playing capably. Expect him to start again tonight. Both Jeremy Lamb (strained back) and Kendrick Perkins (sprained knee) missed action on Wednesday against Houston for Oklahoma City; otherwise the rest of the team is healthy.

 

Tonight's Probable Starters
Position Timberwolves Thunder
PG Ricky Rubio Russell Westbrook
SG Luke Ridnour Thabo Sefolosha
SF Andrei Kirilenko Kevin Durant
PF Derrick Williams Kendrick Perkins
C Nikola Pekovic Serge Ibaka

 


For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com.