Westbrook Came Ready, But His Team Didn't As OKC Loses Third Straight
By: A. Suave Francisco
Three straight losses for Oklahoma City and more questions permeate through Thunderland. The Minnesota Timberwolves welcomed the Thunder into the Target Center and took advantage of a sup-bar Thunder shooting performance by completely routing them 104-88.
Paul George and Carmelo Anthony were the common denominators in this Thunder loss combining for 10-of-33 shooting for only 28 points. Equally as detrimental to OKC's success, George didn't play the level of defense he's hung his hat on throughout his career and without Andre Roberson, OKC desperately needs him to step up in order to compete against the best of the Western Conference.
That didn't happen tonight. Minnesota's Jimmy Butler exploited George for 26 points on 7-of-13 shooting including crucial shots late in the game that made it virtually impossible for the Thunder to come back from.
George wasn't the only Thunder player to blame. Actually, the entire team other than Russell Westbrook was to blame. Not including Westbrook, the Thunder shot 17-of-56 (30 percent) from the field while Westbrook shot an efficient 15-of-23 (65 percent) for the game and finished the game with 38 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists.
Oklahoma City committed 19 turnovers in this game, including six in the first quarter which got them off to a slow start but somehow they held even with the Timberwolves through halftime at 47 all. After a 12-2 run to start the second half for Minnesota, the Thunder couldn't fight back and that's where the game was lost.
An underrated problem for OKC was Karl Anthony-Towns, who late in the game completely out-played and out-hustled Steven Adams. Usually, Adams gets the upper hand in that matchup but Towns finished the game with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including 2-of-3 from three.
OKC has lost three games in a row and now sit second to last in the Northwest Division, only in front of the Utah Jazz. This losing streak holds extra negative weight because two of the three losses came from teams within their division.
However, the Thunder will get a little break from the Western Conference with a chance to get back on track against a struggling Charlotte Hornets team that sits 11th in the Eastern Conference with a (15-24) record. The Hornets beat the Thunder in Chesapeake Energy Arena about a month ago, so this is their chance to return the favor on Saturday for an early 4 p.m. tipoff.