Scotty Brooks tried to give it away.
Tried to give away a game in the name of stubbornness or the Derek Fisher welcome wagon or good old-fashioned mercy on Faith Night at Chesapeake Arena.
But Foreman Scotty's stars wouldn't let him.
Russell Westbrook scored a career-high 45 points, and Kevin Durant hit two monster shots en route to 40 as the Thunder beat the road-weary Minnesota Timberwolves 149-140 in two overtimes.
Despite their coach.
This was not Brooks' finest hour.
Early, he stuck with a big lineup, asking Kendrick Perkins to chase Kevin Love around the perimeter and igniting Love on a 3-point barrage that eventually led to a career-high 51 points.
Late, he stuck with Fisher, who in his second Thunder game played all but one second of the final 26 minutes, 18 seconds. Fisher was not effective; the Thunder wasn't stopping Minnesota, and Fisher missed his first eight shots, including his first four 3-point attempts until a meaningless make with 28 seconds left in the second overtime.
“Had I made a few shots earlier in the game, I wouldn't have gotten so many minutes,” Fisher said, an acceptance of responsibility that confirms the professionalism we're always hearing about. “Had he pulled me, I would have understood.”
Brooks had his reasons for playing Fisher 36 minutes. Daequan Cook is sidelined with a shoulder injury, and Thabo Sefolosha's minutes are being rationed. Brooks said he doesn't want to go over 20 for Sefolosha, who played 19:24 against the 'Wolves.
With Minnesota playing a super-small lineup — smallish point guards Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea, with power forward Love the primary big man — Brooks countered with his own small lineup down the stretch. That meant Westbrook and Fisher.
But when Fisher kept missing, why not Royal Ivey, who has been a spark the last several weeks?
“Yeah, maybe I should have used Ivey some minutes,” Brooks said. “You're caught in that position of, keep staying with him or put a body that's not warm or not loose. But I believe in what he does. I've seen him play.”
Fisher is right. Had he made a shot or two, there would have been no overtime. But had Brooks not asked Perkins to do what he absolutely cannot do — guard Love on the perimeter — the Thunder would have needed neither overtime nor a Fisher make.
Perkins played 23:44 with Love on the court, and Love scored 26 points during that span.
Sure, no one else was great against Love, who scored 25 points in 25:35 when Gran Torino was on the bench.
But Love's initial burst — 11 points the first 4½ minutes of the game — gave the Timberwolves a much-needed spark on a night that ended a seven-game, 13-day road trip.
Clearly, Brooks should have gone to the small lineup earlier. Maybe even go super small; make Love try to guard Durant. That would teach 'em.
Of course, Brooks did us all a favor. His decisions did produce an epic game. Maybe not as wild as that overtime game against Denver a month ago, but close.
Durant made a 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds left in regulation to give the Thunder a three-point lead and then a 3-pointer with 10.1 seconds left in the first overtime to tie the game. He called it “fun” and nerve-wracking.”
Westbrook scored 11 points in the final 5:36 of the overtimes, including a huge putback to cut the Minnesota lead to three with 36 seconds left in the first OT. He called it “fun.”
Love set a Minnesota franchise record for points but had just a solitary foul shot in the second overtime. He called it a “tough loss.”
“The stars were stars tonight,” Fisher said. “That's why those three guys were all-stars in the Western Conference. Fortunately, we had two on our side.”
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.