The Timberwolves started this season with such potential, plus Tom Thibodeau to call the shots. Thibs is apparently adept as ever, but both Ricky Rubio and Nikola Peković are hors de combat, which doesn’t help Minnesota. There are bright spots, of course — Zack LaVine has been shooting like the very dickens this season, and Karl-Anthony Towns seems to have “Next Superstar” stenciled on his forehead, but the Wolves were able to stay with the Thunder only for a couple of quarters today. (Why is there a game starting at 5 pm on a Saturday? Trying to build an NBA audience in Europe, I’m told.) OKC, with a six-point lead at halftime, pounded the Wolves to the tune of 31-19 in the third quarter, and the reserves mopped up at the end. LaVine, guarded largely by Victor Oladipo, never got much traction, and Andre Roberson tied up Andrew Wiggins. This left all kinds of opportunities for KAT, who posted a game-high 33 points on 20 shots, but Towns still wound up -19 for the night as the Thunder walloped the visiting Wolves, 112-92.
Five Thundermen showed up in double figures, led by Russell Westbrook with 28, but perhaps more important to the grand scheme of things was the return of Enes Kanter to Offensive Force status with 20 points and 10 rebounds. New arrival Jerami Grant blocked four shots. And taking the long view, there’s Semaj Christon with 10 points and five assists, not a bad showing for the rookie point guard. The Thunder are still terrible from the stripe — 15-24, 63 percent — but the Wolves weren’t that much better (21-28), and they had only two players in double figures: Towns, with that massive 33, and Shabazz Muhammad, who was 6-9 off the bench for 15 points.
So it’s the Spurs and the Thunder at 5-1, six games in. Probably too early to predict anything. Still, OKC’s next four games are at home, starting with the Miami Heat on Monday, and there’s a lot to be said for the comforting confines of the ‘Peake.