Toward the end of the third quarter, radio guy Matt Pinto made the offhand observation that when the Timberwolves were leading after three quarters, they were something like 9-0. At the time, the Timberwolves had led all night and were up five points. I have to figure that Scott Brooks knew this statistic and passed it on between quarters, because the Thunder opened the quarter with a 16-5 run. Eight minutes in, OKC had outscored Minnesota 25-7. Still, the Wolves are tricky, so Brooks didn’t actually pull the starters until the last minute, when the 113-103 victory was pretty much in the bag.
What happened? Two words: Kevin Durant. Kid Delicious had a triple double, his fourth: 32 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists. Oh, and he blocked four shots. And it helped that the rest of the team didn’t mess up: Serge Ibaka had 15 points and three blocks; Russell Westbrook, 19 points, five assists; Reggie Jackson, 18 points and four assists. (The Thunder bench rolled up 39 points, versus 23 for the backup Wolves.) That final quarter was truly a thing of beauty.
Still, the Wolves machine, when it’s working, is something to behold, and it worked pretty darn well for three quarters. Kevin Martin knocked down 24 points, Nikola Peković 22, and Kevin Love 16; Peković and Love wound up with double-doubles. Minnesota actually outrebounded the Thunder, 46-43. Interestingly, both teams made nine three-pointers, though it took OKC 19 tries and the Wolves 29 tries.
So all three of the teams that beat the Thunder on that ill-fated road trip have now fallen at the ‘Peake. If you told the Thunder they had one job, well, they did it. Six and 0 for the homestand.
The next road trip starts Tuesday at Sacramento, continues Wednesday at Portland, and ends Friday in New Orleans. None of these figure to be particularly easy, and the Blazers, you’ll note, are actually on top on the Northwest.