Strange and wonderful things sometimes happen in the Twin Cities. With the Thunder up 113-111 with 2.2 left, Kevin Love, who’d already clocked 30 points, went up for a trey; Kendrick Perkins went up for a block, drew a foul, and Love reported to the foul line for three free throws.
He got nothing.
Seriously. He bricked the first two, attempted a deliberate miss, and didn’t even hit the rim. Possession passed to the Thunder, the Wolves had to foul, and Kevin Durant, exhibiting preternatural calm, knocked down two freebies to close it out, 115-111. Forty-eight of those points came from KD, a season high. But while The Greatest Scorer on Earth, to borrow radio guy Matt Pinto’s phrase, was collecting buckets, the rest of the team was rising well beyond their recent fourth-quarter woes. (Be it noted that Minnesota had a 13-point lead early in the fourth.) Jeremy Lamb got four of his eight rebounds, a career high, in the fourth; Derek Fisher and Reggie Jackson managed to survive with five fouls (and Fisher, in 25 minutes, led the bench with 13); Nick Collison stemmed the tide of points in the paint for the Wolves. You want a Telltale Statistic? You got one: all the OKC reserves, but none of the starters, finished on the plus side of the ledger. (KD, despite his 48 points, turned in a zero.) Then again, all the Minnesota reserves were minus, and none of them even scored except J. J. Barea, who had five.
But the starting Wolves didn’t need that much help from the bench. In fact, all five of them landed in double figures, and Love wasn’t even the high scorer: that would be Nikola Peković, who scored 31 and picked off 11 rebounds, second only to Love, who collected 14. Ricky Rubio had the night’s third double-double, with 13 points and 10 assists. And who knows what Corey Brewer might have done had he not fouled out trying to defend Durant?
It’s warmer in OKC, but not enormously so: in fact, it will be warmer tomorrow in Boston. But the Celtics will be here at the ‘Peake, and one should not be fooled by their 1-6 record over the last seven.