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Wolves 101, Thunder 93

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: April 12, 2013 at 6:47 pm •  Published: March 29, 2013

Nuggets from my notebook from Friday’s loss at Minnesota.

  • Well…uh…see, what had happened was…
  • Hard to say what went wrong in this one — aside from everything of course.
  • Minnesota has been a tough matchup for the Thunder for at least two seasons, but with Kevin Love still sidelined because of injury that excuse is pretty useless. The Thunder wasn’t on the second night of a back-to-back, the tail end of a grueling road trip or shorthanded. The Wolves just worked the Thunder. Plain and simple. Minnesota played like its season depended on getting a win. OKC played like it didn’t want to come to Minnesota in the first place.
  • “Things happen,” said Kendrick Perkins.
  • That’s twice now it happened. Hard to forget the L the Thunder took in this same building back in mid-December. In fact, tonight’s looked a lot like that game. Much like that game, Minnesota moved the ball, got open shots, controlled the glass and defended as a team for 24 seconds. By the final buzzer, you wondered how much better the Thunder would look if it committed to doing those same basic things.
  • The first three Thunder possessions: Serge Ibaka missed layup, Thabo Sefolosha missed layup, Thabo turnover. Tone. Officially. Set.
  • No reason to go bananas over this one. Seriously. It was a disappointing showing and a shocking result, an outcome that shouldn’t have happened even. But in 24 hours it likely will be forgotten. Either way, it’s a minor setback.
  • Pretty incredible that the Thunder doesn’t have an answer for Nikola Pekovic. The guy just has his way with the Thunder. At least in the last three games he did. After tonight’s 22-point, 15-rebound effort, Pekovic averaged 21 points and 11.7 boards in his final three games against the Thunder.
  • Where Pek really hurt the Thunder was on the glass. Seven of those 15 boards came on the offensive end. It helped the Wolves outscore the Thunder 21-15 in second-chance points.
  • “He was a handful for them,” said Wolves coach Rick Adelman. “They really didn’t have an answer for him. He took advantage of it.”
  • This looks bad. Pek had seven offensive rebounds. Perk had five total rebounds.
  • This isn’t much better. Pek had as many offensive rebounds as total combined rebounds by Thabo and Russell Westbrook.
  • “He played well,” Perkins said. over and over, clearly unable to offer a better explanation. “He had a good night tonight. I mean, he had a good night.”
  • In the last six contests the Thunder has allowed 13.8 offensive rebounds. For comparison purposes, Milwaukee ranks last in the category at 12.5 per game. The Thunder entered Friday tied for the third worst rate, allowing 12 on average.
  •  

    “We gave up too many offensive rebounds,” said Scott Brooks. “That’s something that we’re trying to correct and we do it but not at a consistent level. We have to figure out that part of our defense. That’s when we’re really good, when we finish that defense up with a rebound. Tonight that wasn’t the case.”

  • Too many turnovers, too. Sixteen of them. They led to 19 Wolves points.
  • OKC had as many assists as turnovers.
  • Brooks: “We turned the ball over at too many important parts of the game. I thought we turned it over in ways that we talk about we can’t turn it over. We were weak with the basketball. We have to improve in that area.”
  • The Thunder came in this one holding its previous four opponents below 90 points. In fact, the previous four opponents averaged 85.5 points on 37.5 percent shooting. Tonight, the shorthanded Wolves had 85 points with 7:20 left to play.
  • In the Thunder’s defense, Minnesota came into this one averaging 109 points in its previous four.
  • This was one of my 10 things to watch in the final 10 games. OKC entered tonight’s game 33-8 when Kevin Martin scores at least 15 points and 19-10 when he scores less than 15. K-Mart tonight: four points. Make it 19-11.
  • Martin looked to be turning the corner after a recent slump. He was shooting 50.6 percent in his last eight games. But he started 0-for-6 tonight and finished 1-for-9.
  • With K-Mart struggling, the Thunder’s bench was outscored 33-17.
  • Irony: this might be the best the Thunder has ever played J.J. Barea. The little booger was held to six points on 3-for-9 shooting with only one rebound and two assists in 23 minutes.
  • The Thunder wasted a terrific scoring night from Kevin Durant. I’m on record of saying I think Durant is protecting his 50-40-90 chase and that has led to him taking safer shots. But tonight he came out firing, hoisting step-back jumpers and fadeaways. He had no fear. And he was scorching hot, too. He made nine of his first 10 before finishing 13 of 19 for 36 points, the most he’s scored since a 40-point game against Miami on Valentine’s Day. Shame.
  • Russ was fantastic for the most part. He disappeared in the fourth quarter, which is nothing but strange. In the final period he was scoreless and missed all three of his shot attempts. Prior to that, though, he scored 18 points on 7-for-14 shooting with seven assists against one turnover. He attacked when he needed, set up teammates when necessary and made solid, smart decisions throughout the first three periods.
  • Westbrook subbed out late in the first quarter after twisting his ankle. That might have had something to do with his performance down the stretch.
  • Brooks also kept Westbrook on the bench for an inexplicably long time to start the fourth. I don’t have an answer as to why. Probably because I didn’t ask. I should have.
  • It was even more curious after the way Westbrook had just dominated the third quarter. He scored half of his 18 points in the period and dished three assists.
  • Perk might not have been good tonight, but Barea haters would have given him a pass solely for the way he flattened the Wolves point guard on a ball screen with 2:03 remaining in the first quarter. Barea walked away looking dazed.
  • Derek Fisher snapped his streak tonight!! After missing his first shot, his 19th straight miss, he made a 3-pointer with 10:39 left in the second quarter.
  • Fisher then missed his next shot…and the next one after that. The streak stands at two.
  • K-Mart late in the first quarter adopted the Tony Allen defensive stance. The “I’m going to guard you with my hands behind my back” approach. Martin actually chased Chase Budinger on screens with his hands behind his back.
  • Know what I like about veteran coaches. When they don’t feel like wearing a tie, they don’t wear a freaking tie. Adelman didn’t feel like wearing a freaking tie tonight.
  • Perk said one of the team’s goals is to not allow more than 24 points in any quarter the rest of the way. OKC then allowed 30 in the second tonight and 27 in the third.
  • Nick Collison had a sweet extra pass to Hasheem Thabeet in the second quarter. It was sort of like a high-low pass but not really. Collison just hit the cutter. And Thabeet finished with authority on a nice one-handed dunk.
  • Ibaka had five blocks tonight (although one was actually Perk’s), which moved him past Milwaukee’s Larry Sanders an into the league lead for blocks per game. He’s now averaging an even three.
  • I’d like to think Reggie Jackson played 19 minutes, 27 seconds because that’s about where he needs to be. Unfortunately, Minnesota’s two point guard rotations most likely was the reason. That didn’t stop Jackson from being stellar. Now if he can just start knocking down some 3s.
  • Silver lining tonight: DeAndre Liggins scored 13 points with 12 rebounds, seven assists and three steals tonight in the Tulsa 66ers’ 91-90 win over Austin.
  • Up next. At Milwaukee on Saturday.

-DM-

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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