Despite Inconsistencies, Thunder Bottom Line Still Looks Good
By Randy Renner
The NBA is a bottom line league. ‘Just win baby,’ as a former owner in another league famously said.
And the Thunder have been winning even with all the inconsistencies they’ve had in various parts of their game. They’re 17-4 since December 6th, claiming the second most wins in the NBA during that time frame. The San Antonio Spurs have the most after knocking off the Cleveland Cavaliers for their 18th win since December 6th last night.
The Thunder can jump back into a tie with the Spurs by beating Minnesota for the second time this week tonight at The Peake.
Those inconsistencies were on full view Tuesday night in Minneapolis when the Thunder let an 18 point lead melt down to just three coming down the stretch by playing bad defense and taking ill-advised 3-pointers early in the shot clock.
Thunder coach Billy Donovan admitted his team has “lost focus” at times during the season, especially with big leads.
“Our concentration needs to be better and at a higher level,” Donovan said before the Thunder went out and beat the Dallas Mavericks 108-89 Wednesday night.
The Thunder led that game by 29 but allowed that margin to drop down to 14 in the fourth quarter before slamming the door on a possible Mavericks rally.
"We didn't relax on the defensive end and that shows growth in us," Thunder superstar Kevin Durant told reporters. "That's not our barometer because they didn't have their whole team there, but it was good for us to stay locked in, stay on pace and stick to what we do."
The Mavs rested all five starters because they were playing on the second night of a back-to-back and are also in the midst of a five games in seven nights stretch.
You’d think the Thunder (28-12) will be focused in on the Timberwolves (12-28) tonight with that near come back from Tuesday still fresh in their minds but over the years Minnesota hasn’t been able to provide much quality opposition for the Thunder, losing 12 straight and 22 of the last 25 games the teams have played.
Hopefully the Thunder won’t allow that long history of at times easy success disturb their focus.
The Timberwolves are a talented team struggling to find answers. At times they’ve looked inept and at other times they’ve appeared to be on the verge of a major break through only to fall short.
They’ve been even more inconsistent than the Thunder and Minnesota has been losing to most everyone lately. The T-Wolves have dropped eight straight and 12 of their last 13. They’re just 4-20 since winning three straight at the end of November.
"It's very frustrating not being able to win," said Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins, who's averaged 26.5 points in the last four games and scored 22 against the Thunder. "Every game we play good, but it's something that we're not doing right or a mistake we made and we just have to fix it."
After putting a scare into the Thunder on Tuesday night Minnesota did the same Wednesday night at Houston, losing to the Rockets 107-104 bringing their road record to an NBA-worst 1-9.
Remember tonight’s game tips an hour earlier than usual at a little after 6 o’clock instead of 7. We’ll have full coverage here on the website with live updates from shootaround and pregame on our Twitter feed page and then we’ll have postgame video from the Thunder lockerroom after tonight’s contest.
If you don’t have tickets you can see the game either on ESPN or Fox Sports Oklahoma.