Wolves vs. Thunder Gameday

Jonah Ballow
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Wolves vs. Thunder 7:00 PM - Target Center
Where to Watch: FS North
Where to Listen: 1130 KFAN 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.

Scouting Report:
Big Picture
The previous meeting between the Thunder and Wolves resulted in a 111-103 victory for Oklahoma City. The home team improved to 15-8 following the December 8 win, a record that did not reflect the high expectations placed on last year's most improved squad. Currently, the Thunder are back on track with a 28-16 record and nipping on the heels of Dallas, trailing by just one game in the Western Conference standings. The recipe remains the same for Oklahoma City as the team offensively relies on a heavy dose of rising superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The two players are maintaining their ascent through the NBA ranks, specifically seen in the four-game winning streak from January 4-13. However, over the last week, the Thunder has hit a bit of a rough patch by dropping three of the last four contests. Oklahoma City concludes a short road trip tonight in Minnesota before returning home for a game against Washington and hosting the Heat in a nationally televised matchup on Sunday afternoon.

Last Time Out
David West drilled a fadeaway jumper to lift New Orleans over the Thunder 91-89 on Monday night. Oklahoma City suffered through poor offensive performances in the second and fourth quarters, only combining for 30 points.

Minnesota fought hard in the fourth quarter but the rally fell short in a 129-125 defeat to Houston. The Wolves trailed by as much as 19 points but Kevin Love once again delivered a monster game with 24 points and 17 rebounds.

The Numbers Game
In the two meetings against Oklahoma City this season, the Wolves have competed to the bitter end. With an average defeat of nine points per game, Minnesota hopes the third time is a charm facing its Northwest Division foe.

Match-up to Watch
Wolves backcourt vs. Russell Westbrook
Durant is one of those elite players that will find a way to light up the box score regardless of defensive scheme or individual matchup. His counterpart at the point guard spot is quickly becoming a top flight signal caller and defensive nightmare for opposing teams. Westbrook establishes a pace of play for the explosive Thunder offense while picking his spots to attack the rim or take over when Durant receives a rest on the bench. Minnesota's backcourt of Luke Ridnour, Jonny Flynn, and potentially Corey Brewer will have to keep Westbrook contained and deep on the perimeter. The former UCLA point guard has greatly improved his jumper this year but the best opportunity to limit his impact in the scoring column and halt his playmaking is to shutdown the paint. Wesbrook's speed and strength is nearly unstoppable once he gets moving in transition, which puts on the onus on the Wolves guards to quickly retreat on any fastbreak attempt from Oklahoma City.

What to Look For
A major difference in this year's Thunder team compared to the 2009-10 version is the points allowed statistic. Head coach Scott Brooks impressively injected a defensive philosophy into the Oklahoma City lineup and they only allowed 98 points per game last season. Through 44 games this year, the Thunder are giving up 101.9 points and 46.8 percent from the floor. Minnesota's ninth ranked offense (points per game) should have success tonight as it has posted over 100 points in the two contests against Oklahoma City. The Thunder also holds a fairly average road record, just 12-10 away from the Ford Center.
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