What the hell was going on at the Target Center? The Timberwolves led after the first quarter, 40-22? Kevin Durant actually fouled out?
What happened, apparently, was that at some point in the second quarter, someone, probably Scott Brooks, said the word “defense,” and the little light bulbs lit up over various Thunder heads. After 40 points in 12 minutes, the Timberwolves were held to 63 points in 36, as Oklahoma City pulled out a 111-103 win that no one had imagined an hour and a half before.
But actually, the answer may have been a different word: “Ibaka.” Captain Congo blocked eight shots, a record for the team since arriving in OKC, and committed only two fouls; Durant took up the hand-in-the-face slack, and exited in the waning moments, 30 points and 11 rebounds in hand. Heck, even Thabo Sefolosha (13 points) got a trey.
And they needed every bit of that defense to curb Michael Beasley (26 points) and Kevin Love (22 points, 21 boards), although the Wolves were Darko-less for the evening. Minnesota was hitting everything in the first quarter; thereafter, they were effectively shut down and wound up with only 41.9 percent shooting, 10 percent behind the Thunder.
The third game on this road trip is Friday night at New Orleans. The Hornets are streaky this year. Then again, so are the Thunder.