Thunder spoil Minnesota's Christmas debut
Dec 25, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams (12) dunks the ball against Minnesota Timberwolves forward Gorgui Dieng (5) during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
The OKC Thunder threw coal all up in the TimberPups’ stockings, dismantling Minnesota 112-100 on Christmas Day at the Peake.
Both teams were clad in fresh Christmas Day jerseys (the black and green for the Wolves were particularly dope). The first half was a see-saw affair, with each team gaining and losing the advantage at times in the blink of an eye. Russ was stymied by Ricky Rubio early, shooting 2-9 to start.
All the starters got off to a slow start for the Thunder, and it was the bench (who were outscoring the starters at one point), that brought the Thunder back into the game after they trailed early.
Led by the gloriously mustachioed Enes Kanter (20 points on 8-10 from the field), and his Kanteriffic behind-the-back move in transition, the Thunder bench shined and scored 50 points this evening. Teen Wolf, aka Alex Abrines, also chipped in 10 points off the bench, most notable from a ridiculously deep three-pointer in the second half.
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Just a quick aside: Billy D has continued to tinker with the rotations, which is fine as it’s still relatively early in the season. However, I think it’s time we see more consistent minutes for the rookie out of Spain. His defense has improved (slightly), and as one of the only consistent deep threats on the team, he SHOULD provide some much needed spacing at the least.
Related Story: Why trading Russell Westbrook is the Thunder’s best move
Russ hit his stride when he checked back in in the second quarter, and he ended the first half with 17 points (6-16 shooting), 5 dimes, and three boards. Both teams were shooting over fifty percent at the half, and the Thunder took a three-point lead into the third quarter. It turned into a clinic after the half.
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Oklahoma City had their way with Minnesota, who continue to be plagued by somewhat inexplicable third quarter woes. Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins (the last two Rookies of the Year) combined for 49 points. Zach Lavine, coming off a career high 40-point game against Sacramento two nights ago, was held to only 15 for the Wolves. The three youngins combined to shoot 25-51 from the floor and continue to show potential.
The rest of the Timberwolves may as well have stayed in Minnesota. OKC would finish the evening with a robust 51% shooting from the field and had 26 assists on 42 converted buckets. Of those 26 assists, 15 came from Russell Westbrook, who was dishing out alley-oop lobs in the second half like Santa dishes out presents.
The fact that Russell is responsible for more than 50 percent of the Thunder’s assists is slightly disconcerting, but it’s hard to care too much when he makes it look as good as he did tonight. Russ would finish the evening with 31 points and 7 boards in addition to the aforementioned 15 dimes. The highlight of the evening, however, was the Thunderous dap Russ delivered to a kid sitting courtside late in the 4th quarter.
Russell Westbrook just made this kid's year. https://t.co/lh5ZRqpxHL
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) December 26, 2016
Steven Adams erupted for 22 points on 9-12 shooting, and it made me so happy. I’ve been patiently waiting to see the big fella take on a bigger role offensively, and I truly hope he keeps up the mojo from this evening.
The Thunder are 11-4 in their last 15, and improve to 19-12 on the season. I’m still nervous about the upcoming brutal month of January, but judging by the dance moves on the bench this evening, it looks like Cameron Payne and Victor Oladipo are getting closer to returning to the lineup.
The Thunder have tomorrow off before traveling to Miami for a showdown with the Heat on Tuesday.