Facing the Minnesota Timberwolves who were without Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic should have meant a much easier game for the Oklahoma City Thunder, but Ricky Rubio giving an uncharacteristic offensive performance almost cost Kevin Durant an unexpected home loss.
Rubio had 19 points on 6-of-12 from the field which felt like a career night from the Spanish point guard, helping the Timberwolves to stay neck and neck with the Oklahoma City Thunder until the fourth quarter in a game they really didn’t have any business staying close in.
Kevin Durant wasn’t far from a triple double, scoring 26 points (only two of them in the final quarter), adding 9 rebounds and 7 assists. It was a good game and especially finish from Reggie Jackson (20 points) and surprisingly Derek Fisher with 13, making the most of the open shots he kept getting from a Timberwolves defense that was without its two starting big men.
We just focus on doing our job every night and living with the results and they’ve been pretty good for a while now. We have expectations to a standard that we want to play at and I think we’ve done a good job with that going into the All-Star break. This is funky time for a lot of teams because a lot of players are probably thinking about the break and what they’re doing, getting their plans together. We’ve never been a team that has done that and I don’t anticipate that happening this year.
The Timberwolves focused on stopping Durant, who finished with 11-of-20 from the field. He doesn’t fall into trap of trying to force too many things, probably trusting his teammates and especially guys like Jackson and Lamb to do more without him having to help. The Thunder have now gone 15-1 against Western conference teams when playing at home, winning their last 8 home games.
Maybe the biggest play of the game that titled it towards the Thunder came on the final play of the third quarter. With the game tied at 77, Derek Fisher went for a buzzer beater. He missed, but rookie Gorgui Dieng provided the tip in into the wrong basket, giving the Thunder a small lead but a big morale boost heading into the final quarter.
I’ve never seen that before. That guy is a rookie . so I’m sure he’s going to learn from that one. But that gave us a boost and at the start of the fourth those guys came out and played extremely hard and that’s what we needed.
While the Thudner continue soaring and occupying the top spot in the Western conference, all that without Russell Westbrook (and maybe playing better without him) the Minnesota Timberwolves probably got a less or two about their ability to cope without three players from their starting lineup, but no matter how you try and spin it, even with Love, Pekovic and Brewer, this time might fall short of the playoffs because of bad defense and Ricky Rubio simply being unable to pose a consistent offensive threat.