Lu Dort
(Zach Beeker | OKC Thunder)

Game Recap: OKC vs. MIN

By Paris Lawson | Broadcast and Digital Reporter | okcthunder.com

THE BIG PICTURE

The Thunder’s offense worked to keep pace with Minnesota, but OKC's defense was unable to extinguish the red-hot shooting from the Timberwolves throughout the night. A mixture of 3-pointers and points off turnovers proved to be the difference maker in the T' wolves' ability to take control of the ball game over OKC in its rematch on Friday night. 

MOMENTS FROM THE 48

Game Flow

3-point shooting was the name of the game inside of Paycom Center on Friday night. From the very outset, the Timberwolves set the tone from behind the arc led by Anthony Edwards who went a perfect 5-for-5 from deep in the first quarter alone. While OKC shot an efficient 50 percent from behind the arc in the first frame and only trailed by four heading into the second, the Thunder wouldn’t be able to keep pace through the next three quarters as the T'wolves shot 41 percent from 3 and 56 percent from the field. 

In addition, Minnesota’s offense began to pick up extra steam in the second half fueled by OKC’s turnovers. The Thunder committed 20 turnovers that led to an extra 34 points for Minnesota who lead the league in points off turnovers as well as opponent turnover rate. Between the scoring from deep and the points off turnovers, Minnesota took control of the game in the second frame and didn’t look back for the rest of the night. 

“You've got to tip your hat to the shot-making early in the game especially,” said Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault. “They had their shoulder in our chest all night. They were aggressive. They made shots. They had 38 assists. They had a really good offensive performance and made us pay for not having our fastball defensively.”

Dort and Daigneault Back in the Fold

After missing five games due to health and safety protocols, Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault returned to the sidelines against the Timberwolves on Friday night. In addition, Thunder guard Lu Dort returned to the lineup after missing the previous two matchups with left knee soreness. In his first game back, the third-year wing scored a team-high 18 points while also recording a pair of blocks. 

“It felt good,” said Dort. “Just had to take some time off, get some rehab and then it felt great to be out there with the guys tonight.”

“It's good to be back,” said Daigneault. “I'd much rather lose than be in a hotel room. It's part of being the competition. We’ve got to taste our blood in this one and we've got to look ourselves in the mirror. It's competing. There's no place we'd rather be than in the fight.”

Wiggins Scoring Streak

With his 13 points, Thunder two-way rookie Aaron Wiggins has now logged seven consecutive games scoring in double figures which marks the longest streak by a Thunder rookie this season. In addition, the first-year wing is tied for the third-longest streak of double-figure scoring by a rookie in OKC history. 

Beyond his scoring, the former Maryland Terrapin pulled down seven rebounds, dished out four assists and snagged a pair of steals in the effort on Friday night.

“Just going out there and not worrying about anything knowing that the game will come to me and everything will happen the way it’s supposed to,” said Wiggins. “Trying to do whatever I can to put our team in the best position to win.”

Zach Beeker | OKC Thunder

Important Final Minutes

Usually, the final five minutes of a 30-point game spell closing time for teams on both sides of the scoreboard. But for a young, developing Thunder team, those minutes are evaluated just as intentionally as the previous 40. OKC outscored Minnesota’s second unit 52 to 45 in part due of the efforts of the final lineup which included Paul Watson Jr, Ty Jerome and Théo Maledon. The trio, who had not been in the rotation throughout the game, combined for 17 points on 7-of-13 from the field over the final eight minutes of play. 

“They were engaged all the way through and those are important minutes,” said Daigneault. “We're not going to waste opportunities to evaluate our players and we're hoping our players don't waste opportunities to play and I didn't think those guys did that at the end there.”

THE LAST WORD

“We certainly have to learn the lessons and look in the mirror and own the game. But not overreact and not you know, internalize it as a trend unless it becomes one. So, we’ve just got to get ourselves back on track.”

Coach Daigneault on the takeaways from the night

WHAT'S NEXT

The Thunder will have a day of practice before closing out its brief two-game homestand on Sunday against the Denver Nuggets. The team then hits the road for a pair of Eastern Conference matchups against the Wizards and the Nets.