It does not pay to take any team lightly, even the bottom-dwelling Timberwolves: the Thunder ran up a 25-point lead against Minnesota (43 points in the first quarter!), only to see it dwindle to six during the second half. I’m not quite sure exactly at which point they shifted back into Taking Care of Business mode, and as radio guy Matt Pinto said, it wasn’t the most aesthetically-pleasing win, but when you’ve got seven games to play and a playoff seeding at stake, you take any W you can get. OKC 116, Minnesota 108, and that’s a 4-0 sweep of the growlers from Targetland.
In the third quarter, the Wolves ran right at the rim, and while they didn’t connect on all the shots, they drew lots of fouls, resulting in 32 foul shots, 28 of which they made. All the Minnesota starters except Ryan Hollins, who got into foul trouble early on, scored in double figures, as did reserve guard Damien Wilkins, who has been lots of trouble for his former OKC teammates. Ryan Gomes (22 points) wielded a mean long-ball (four of seven); the Wolves shot a respectable 47.4 percent.
The Thunder were inconsistent on the boards, though they did win the rebounding battle, 47-34. Russell Westbrook served up 16 dimes, a new career high, and scored 10; Jeff Green had 16 points and 10 boards; Serge Ibaka had 14 and 9. And that Durant fellow sank two free throws in the waning moments to bring his total to, um, 40.
OKC (48-28) remains in sixth, for now; the Spurs (47-29) beat the Lakers and stayed one game back. The Blazers (47-30) are off until Wednesday. Meanwhile, that logjam right behind the Lakers four teams knotted at 50-27 is still in place. If the Thunder are only a game and a half out of eighth, they’re only two games out of second. For now, anyway. Anything can happen in the next few days, and it starts with a trip to Utah on Tuesday.