Minnesota forward Kevin Love, who accumulates double-doubles as effortlessly as Charlie Sheen accumulates TMZ headlines, didn’t make the trip to Oklahoma City; he’s suffering from a strain to the groin. His absence, however, didn’t daunt the young Wolves, who kept coming back through three quarters, and the Thunder had to crank up the defense in the fourth. The Thunder reserves kept the Wolves at bay for almost six minutes, holding them to three points; the starters finished the job, 111-103, as OKC swept Minnesota for the second year in a row.
In Love’s absence, Anthony Randolph has been getting the start, and he’s definitely been earning his keep: tonight he led all scorers with 24 and all rebounders with 15. His career high is 31, which he got last night against Dallas. Michael Beasley added 20. (All five starting Wolves finished in double figures.) Overall, Minnesota was generally competitive, hitting 47.6 percent from the floor and six of ten treys; rebounds were tied at 40. But in that last frame, they hit only a third of their shots and turned the ball over eight times, undoing a lot of their good work.
All twelve active Thunder players got some playing time, and seven of them landed in double figures. The one double-double belonged to Serge Ibaka, with 12 points and 10 boards. The Durant-Westbrook combine managed 42 (23 + 19). OKC shot 52.4 percent for the night, though their free-throw numbers are off. (Kendrick Perkins, who’s doing well to get 60 percent of his freebies, went 1-6, though he hit all six of his field-goal tries.) And this statistic is startling: sixteen steals, five by Russell Westbrook alone. Add seven blocked shots, four by Thabo Sefolosha, and you start to wonder how the Wolves managed to get 103 points.
But no matter. It’s the last we’ll see of them this year, and it is a measure of something, I’m not quite sure what, that the Big Sideways Wheel will fill up even if you bring in a team that was mathematically eliminated from the playoffs a week ago. And there’s no time to linger over the thought anyway, since the Trail Blazers will be here Sunday.