The key to tonight’s Timberwolves game, it appears, was the presence of Jeff Adrien. And the reason he was there is fourfold: Kevin Martin, Nikola Peković, Ricky Rubio, and Ronny Turiaf were out with various injuries. Adrien, therefore, is Minnesota’s Ish Smith: picked up under the NBA’s hardship rule while the roster is depleted. It wasn’t so long ago that the Thunder was in similar straits, and they played tonight like the Thunder’s opponents back then: the quantity of mercy is conspicuous by its absence. Oklahoma City jumped out to a 39-21 lead after the first quarter, running it to 70-49 at the half. But the Wolves dug in and concentrated on making high-percentage shots; by the end of the third, they’d cut that lead to 16, and the Thunder obligingly made only one shot in the next four minutes and one more in the next three and a half. The Wolves did not, however, capitalize on this opportunity, and OKC bagged the win, 111-92.
Minnesota, after working their shot percentage up over 50 in the third, dropped to a still-plausible 46, and five Wolves made double figures, led by Andrew Wiggins and Shabazz Muhammad (off the bench!) with 18 each. Thaddeus Young, one of the few veterans available this evening, added 16. The Wolves were efficient at forcing turnovers, collecting 19 from the Thunder; they were soundly spanked on the boards, though, 47-31.
Kevin Durant stayed under his 30-minute restriction, and concentrated on moving the ball around: he had 16 points and five assists. Still, the team’s Master of Dime is Russell Westbrook, who served up six of them and scored 34. And Steven Adams put together a double-double: 16 points, 11 boards. Anthony Morrow led the bench with 14. The Minnesota bench actually outscored the OKC reserves, 30-27; most of those came from Muhammad, though Jeff Adrien scored 4 exactly as many as Ish Smith.
Back home on Sunday to take on the Phoenix Suns, followed by a trip to the Left Coast: Sacramento Tuesday, Golden State Thursday, and the Lakers on Friday. The Suns can score, and so can the Kings; the Warriors can beat you every which way. We’ll leave it at that.