Since training camp started, the focus has been improving defensively. The Thunder collected nine steals, blocked six shots, limited Minnesota to 12 points in the fourth quarter and held the Timberwolves to 1-of-7 shooting the final six minutes.
"Anytime you hold a team under 90 you’re pleased, but 12 points in the fourth quarter is exceptional,” said coach P.J. Carlesimo
A crowd of 18,163 was approximately 1,000 below capacity but was loud when Oklahoma City overcame a 10-point deficit.
"You always want to make home a special place to play, a tough place for opponents,” said forward Desmond Mason
. "That’s the No. 1 thing (about this win). We need to establish this will be a tough building.”
Both teams were playing back-to-back games. OKC lost Saturday night in Houston. The T-Wolves lost Saturday night at home to Dallas.
"Playing back-to-back, the crowd doesn’t know how major that is for us,” said Thunder guard Earl Watson
. "It gives us automatic energy. Back-to- back in the NBA is the hardest thing to come back and play at a high level the second game. You don’t have as much energy. You’re tired.”
Led by Nick Collison’s
team-high 10 rebounds, the Thunder out-rebounded Minnesota 50-38.
"Twenty-five second-chance points was the difference in the game,” said T-Wolves coach Randy Wittman
. "They shot 24 percent in the first half off set plays but ended up shooting 40 percent for the half because of put-backs.”
Some analysts said the Thunder erred by selecting Russell Westbrook
No. 4 overall in the draft and should have taken Kevin Love
, who was selected No. 5 by Memphis and traded to Minnesota.
It’s a small sample, but Westbrook has had a better debut based on summer camp, preseason games and the first week of the regular season.
Fast break ...
The Thunder committed only four turnovers in the second half. Two of the four were in the final minute. ... Thunder players are off today and return to practice Tuesday in preparation for Wednesday’s game against the defending NBA champion Celtics. ... It took nearly six halves, but the Thunder grabbed its first Ford Center lead with 2:02 left in the first half on Jeff Green
breakaway dunk. ... Two large red LOUD CITY banners stating "Bring The Thunder” were added to the rafters.
BY MIKE BALDWIN