Wolves @ Thunder Gameday





Jonah Ballow
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Wolves @ Thunder 7:00 PM - Oklahoma City Arena
Where to Watch: FS North
Where to Listen: 1130 AM

*Get your questions on the radio airwaves during halftime! Just tweet questions to @WolvesRadio and listen to the halftime show hosted by John Focke on 1130 AM.

Notable Injuries:
Wolves:
* Kevin Love (groin) - OUT

Mavericks:
* Nate Robinson (knee) - OUT

Scouting Report:
Big Picture
In last year's playoffs, the Thunder played the Cinderella role against the top seeded Lakers. This season, Oklahoma City expects to be a force in the postseason with two legit superstars leading the charge. The Thunder hold a 46-24 overall record and sit comfortably at the No. 4 spot in the latest Western Conference standings. Winning 10 of its last 12 games, Oklahoma is finishing strong behind Kevin Durant, Russell Westrbook, and the added defensive presence of newly acquired center Kendrick Perkins. The Thunder will enjoy three straight home games starting with the contest against Minnesota and then a four-game West Coast road trip that ends in Denver. With two Nuggets games remaining on the schedule for Oklahoma City, the matchups will provide NBA fans with a potential glimpse at a first round 4-5 seed battle between two talented teams.

Last Time Out
Westbrook and Durant combined for 60 points to lift Oklahoma City past Utah 106-94 on Sunday night.

Last night, Minnesota nearly escaped Dallas with a surprising victory but fell short 104-96 to fall for the fifth consecutive time.

The Numbers Game
Despite missing the league's leading rebounder last night, the Wolves fought hard on the glass and compiled 38 boards to the Mavericks' 43 rebounds. Each active player on the Minnesota roster registered at least two rebounds in Dallas.

Match-up to Watch
Michael Beasley vs. Kevin Durant
Beasley began the season on a torrid pace by averaging 23.2 points in November and the former No. 2 overall pick seemed to relish his opportunity in Minnesota. Over the last couple of months, Beasley has struggled with severe ankle and hip injuries, limiting his strong first step and elevation on his deep jumper. As the season winds down for the Wolves, Beasley would like to finish on a positive note starting tonight against his childhood friend, Durant. The Thunder small forward has earned a spot among the NBA elite in his fourth season. Durant is nearly unstoppable with extremely long arms and an underrated handle, leading to 27.9 points and seven boards per game in 2010-11. There is no real easy solution to stop Durant but Beasley will need to keep the 6-9 prolific scorer off the free throw line and out of the paint. Expect Anthony Tolliver to jump off the bench to provide a more physical defensive option for the Wolves. In three contests against Minnesota this season, The Durantula is averaging 35 points per game along with 12.3 boards.

What to Look For
Wolves fans waking up this morning and reaching for the box score from last night's game against Dallas might be a bit startled by Anthony Randolph's numbers. Replacing Love in the starting lineup, Randolph received 36 minutes and put together a sparkling performance with 31 points off 14-of-20 shooting from the floor. The 21-year old scored in a variety of ways by drilling jumpers from the perimeter, taking Dirk Nowitizki off the bounce, and attacking the offensive glass with putback dunks high above the rim. While his performance was impressive, head coach Kurt Rambis will be the first person to tell the media that star players separate themselves by consistently producing in a variety of ways. Randolph will face a defensive minded Thunder frontcourt tonight featuring Serge Ibaka, Perkins, Nazr Mohammed, and Nick Collison. If the former LSU standout can duplicate his performance and the Wolves can display the same type of fight from last night, the final meeting against the playoff bound Thunder should be an entertaining matchup.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Jonah on Twitter.