Extreme highs, plummeting lows–it’s the Thunder way, and has been since their inception in 2008. After playing three of the best games of the season, the Thunder put up a dud in Minnesota, losing 96-86 to the upstart Timberwolves.
Russell Westbrook got his requisite triple-double, but he played what might have been his worst game all season. Westbrook had 21 points, 12 assists, and 11 boards on the game, which is a great stat line if context is ignored: he shot just 7-23 (1-10 from three-point range) and 10 turnovers.
The team as a whole struggled with shooting and turnovers just as Russ did: the Thunder shot only 39% and turned the ball over 18 times to the Timberwolves.
Domantas Sabonis shot just 3-11, scoring just seven. Steven Adams was limited to four points and five rebounds. Outside of Enes Kanter, the bench unit scored only six points.
“It don’t mean shi*t,” Westbrook said when asked about his 19th triple-double, more than he had all of last season. “We lost.”
Victor Oladipo was the next-leading scorer for the Thunder with 19–but it took 18 shots to get there.
Karl-Anthony Towns, by contrast, played wonderfully in all facets of the game: he scored 29 points and grabbed seven boards. Most notable for Towns–and this is something unusual at this early stage in his career–was his defensive impact. He had three blocks and two steals on the night, and his long arms made it tough for Thunder shooters at the rim. Towns has been the biggest reason for Minnesota’s three game streak.
“There’s nothing better than a talented player with confidence,” Towns said. “Those are the most dangerous players. I think right now we have a lot of confidence. So right now we’re just rolling with it.”
The Timberwolves were missing their third-leading scorer Zach Lavine, but a combination of Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Ricky Rubio, and Brandon Rush helped put the Thunder away. Wiggins scored 19 and grabbed six rebounds, while Rubio had a very symmetrical statline: 14 points, 14 assists, four rebounds, four steals.
The Thunder fall to 24-17, while the Timberwolves improve to 14-26. Next up for OKC: they take on the Sacramento Kings on the road tomorrow night.