Thunder Lose Heartbreaker To T-Wolves
By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
For most of the first three quarters Sunday night the Thunder struggled with various things and trailed Minnesota 88-75.
In the 4th quarter OKC came alive on offense, outscoring the T-Wolves 38-27 and very nearly pulled off a thrilling come back win.
Everyone in the building thought Carmelo Anthony had swished a game winning 3-ball with 4.7 seconds showing on the clock and the Timberwolves facing an up court trip with no timeouts and all of a sudden down 113-112.
But Andrew Wiggins banked a 30-foot prayer off the glass and into the net as the buzzer sounded snatching a win away from the Thunder 115-113.
"It was obviously a great game coming down the stretch there and probably could have gone either way," said head coach Billy Donovan.
Donovan did not get into the debate over the last play when T-Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau appeared to be asking for a timeout (that he didn't have and should have been whistled for a technical foul) and Karl Anthony-Towns setting what appeared to be a moving screen (which wasn't called) on Paul George helping to free up Wiggins for his last second heroics.
Donovan instead preferred to talk about "what could we have done? Could we have defended those last four seconds better?"
Donovan went on to say the Thunder were actually in good position on the play, things just didn't end up going their way.
"I think what we did when the ball came in bounds was perfect. Paul played it perfectly because he was trying to get over the screen and Wiggins saw that and he kinda changed direction and came back. Steven was there to help so we were in perfect position."
So what went wrong? Well that moving screen that sent George falling to the court was probably the main issue.
"Whether it was a moving screen or not I don't know but it allowed (Wiggins) to get to the middle of the floor and got off a shot."
A shot that silenced the 301st straight sellout crowd at The Peake and sent the Thunder to their second straight loss.
Russell Westbrook scored almost half (15) of his 31 points in the 4th quarter on 6-for-9 shooting (3-for-5 on threes). He also had three assists, the last one to Melo for that 3-ball that had the game won for a handful of seconds.
Anthony ended up with 23 points, Steven Adams had a monster game with 17 points, 13 rebounds (eight on the offensive end), three assists and two blocks. George ended up with 14 points. Both PG (1-for-8) and Anthony (2-for-7) struggled from beyond the arc and once again OKC didn't get to the free throw line very much (16 attempts) and didn't make very many (10) for 62.5 percent.
The T-Wolves were 19-for-23 at the stripe and that nine point advantage proved pretty vital.
The other problem OKC had was Andre Roberson, as good of a defender as he is, Donovan had to take him off the floor in the closing minutes because the Thunder couldn't afford having him being sent to the free throw line. Roberson was 0-for-everything Sunday night scoring 0 points on 0-for-4 shooting overall, 0-for-2 on threes and 0-for-2 on free throws.
On the plus side the Thunder got some quality minutes from the bench with Jerami Grant and Raymond Felton scoring 12 points each on a combined 9-for-12 shooting overall and 3-for-4 on threes.
Donovan saw some things the team can build on going forward and like everyone has said this is going to be a process getting everything situated, but a 1-2 record after three games is probably not what most people expected.