For the third game in a row and the second night of a back-to-back, the Oklahoma City Thunder (22-20) failed to make the plays necessary to win in the second half.
After losing by 11 to Portland on Tuesday, the Thunder stumbled on the road in Minnesota (27-16) by 16, 104-88. The second half woes that Oklahoma City was able to overcome in December seem to be coming back to haunt the team this month.
The Thunder ran even with the Timberwolves in the first half, tying the game at 47 after being down 12-2 early in the 1st quarter. The 3rd quarter saw the same Oklahoma City team from the previous night, outscored 34-25 by the Trailblazers, being outscored 29 to 18 to open the second half. Minnesota never looked back.
Russell Westbrook finished with 38 points, on 15-of-23 shooting, 10 rebounds and only five assists. The reigning MVP, who left the arena prior to media responsibilities the previous night, played with obvious frustration and didn’t look for teammates as often as he has been since the beginning of December.
Paul George logged 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting, while Carmelo Anthony scored 15 points.
Karl Anthony-Towns, who has been woeful in his attempt to defend Thunder center Steven Adams did a fantastic job in the paint, stifling the New Zealand big by scoring 18 points and holding his counter part to eight.
“We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well,” Billy Donovan said. “At the start of the game, we started 1-for-7 and we had good looks, we just dug ourselves a whole. We fought our way back but couldn’t sustain in the second half.”
Jimmy Butler was sensational with 26 points, seven rebounds, eight assists to go along with four steals and two blocks. Oklahoma City, who is still missing defensive stopper Andre Roberson, continues their bad stretch of defensive performances.
Like Tuesday night, there wasn’t anything in particular that stuck out individually that led to such a dominating loss. Regardless, the Thunder still lost, and lost badly. After finishing December 12-5, the momentum gained has seemed to run out. Oklahoma City will need to seriously reevaluate their team defense.
The Thunder were outscored 57-41 in the second half after scratching and clawing to simply tie the game at the half. Of course, the second night of a back-to-back will yield sloppy results at times, but the Thunder will be preparing for their two-day rest before their match with Charlotte frustrated.
Other than the big three, Oklahoma City’s bench scored 11 points and did little to help the starters. Terrance Ferguson, filling in for Roberson, added only three points.
Saturday’s game against Charlotte becomes more important with each loss dating back to the Phoenix disaster. The Thunder currently sit at seventh in the Western Conference. They will need to get back on track quick.We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Our Podcast is on iTunes. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!