It was, perhaps, a foregone conclusion. The Timberwolves were disposed of handily, as they have been three times previously this season; the starters began disappearing early, and halfway through the fourth, OKC had a 125-102 lead, on the way to a 138-113 win. (A titanic defensive struggle, this was not; the Thunder rolled up 47 points in the first quarter, something that hasn’t happened since Seattle.) However, the mighty Spurs were humbled by the Pelicans in New Orleans, 108-103 — once trailing by 22, San Antonio could pull no closer than three — and so the 45-37 Beaked Wonders, not the 45-37 Thunder, will grab that last playoff spot on the last day of the season.
There is, of course, a Participation Ribbon: Russell Westbrook, 38-8-7, 34 of those points in the first half (!), finishes ahead of James Harden for the scoring title with a stirring 28.1, and what’s more, Dion Waiters (!!) tied his career high with 33. Enes Kanter had a 25-15 game, and Nick Collison (!!!) led the bench with 12.
The stripped-down Wolves, missing about half the roster, still came up with big offense, quite apart from the Thunder’s general lack of defense. Kevin Martin headed the effort with 29 points; super rookie Andrew Wiggins added 23; Zack LaVine, who played longer than anyone else (almost 41 minutes), finished with 19.
So the West looks like this: Golden State (1) vs New Orleans (8); Houston (2) vs Dallas (7); Los Angeles Clippers (3) vs Memphis (6); Portland (4) vs San Antonio (5). You may have noticed that all five Southwest Division teams are in the playoffs; only two from Pacific and one from Northwest (the Trail Blazers, who actually had the seventh-best record). What this means for the future is anyone’s guess, except mine. I’m just going to set the microphone down and turn on the Dodgers game.