After limiting its primary concern to just five points and two rebounds Friday night, you'd think the Thunder would be boasting that its long-lost defense finally had returned.
You'd think wrong.
OKC cruised to a 127-111 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Chesapeake Energy Arena to snap a season-long three-game losing streak, and while Thunder coach Scott Brooks loved the 127 points his team scored, he wasn't at all satisfied with the 111 it surrendered.
“No question that what we have is not broken,” Brooks said of his team's long-lost defense. “It's just not working at the moment.”
The OKC defense worked well enough to hold 6-foot-11, 290-pound Timberwolves monstrosity Nikola Pekovic to 1-for-4 shooting from the field and two measly rebounds in 22 minutes. He entered the game averaging 16.1 points and 9.1 rebounds. In two previous meetings against the Thunder this season, Pekovic averaged 20.5 points and 10.0 rebounds.
OKC's prospects of containing Pekovic didn't look good at the outset. It wasn't known until an hour before tipoff that center Kendrick Perkins would be available after missing Wednesday's game at Houston with a sprained knee.
Perkins and reserve center Hasheem Thabeet had picked up two fouls each by the 2:46 mark of the first quarter while defending Pekovic. Turns out Pekovic would do all his scoring and rebounding in the first quarter.
“It was a major concern going into the game, not knowing if Perk was going to be able to play or not,” Brooks said. “I thought that his defense was good. That kid (Pekovic) has really improved. I think he may be the leading candidate for ‘Most Improved Player.' He (Perk) didn't give them many easy points. He didn't give them many offensive rebounds.”
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