Oklahoma City had just come off a 106-103 loss to Minnesota the previous night and were looking to bounce back. On Friday, the Thunder played a taller roster and relied heavily on the power of their bigs to get through the game.
The Thunder went through a few roster changes including the addition of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort, and Theo Maledon. Although Al Horford was deemed out as well as Isiah Roby who was unavailable due to a foot injury. This different lineup constructed a different outcome and provided Oklahoma City a 120-118 win over Minnesota.
Gilgeous-Alexander and Dort came out swinging and led the Thunder to gain a quick lead. “Me being the point guard, I want to get the juices going and play aggressive”, Gilgeous-Alexander said. Attacking the rim with tenacity Oklahoma City racked up 25 points in paint. Six of those were from turnovers the Thunder forced on the defensive end of the floor.
Fantastic ball movement, sharp shooting, and defense led to Oklahoma City outscoring Minnesota 43-24 by the end of the first quarter. Mark Daigneault said,”we came out with a great intention, we attacked really well and we hit the paint.”
But they did not allow a 19 point lead to diminish their focus.
The Thunder continued to dominate yet it was not Gilgeous-Alexander leading the charge but Mike Muscala. Going 7-7 from field goal range and 2-2 from behind the arc, Muscala’s heat could not be scorched.
This was a completely different narrative from their previous matchup against the Timberwolves. Oklahoma City finished the half with 83 points which is now a franchise record.
The Thunder had an easy win under their belts…or so it seemed.
Both teams came out in the same uniforms but they both appeared completely different.
Oklahoma City could not get their shot to fall and struggled to gain control offensively. Meanwhile Minnesota began to make bucket after bucket and before the Thunder knew it the Timberwolves had accomplished a 19-3 run.
After the Timberwolves controlled the third quarter by outscoring the Thunder 32-13, Oklahoma City began to make adjustments.
Each player for the Thunder muscled their way into the paint and forced Minnesota into uncomfortable shots on defense. They fought through the drought and Oklahoma City had regained their momentum. Theo Maledon said,”they realized there was time left to control the game and make the right plays on offense and defense.”
Gilgeous-Alexander was the biggest component for the Thunder’s success in the fourth quarter, he made 9 straight points down the stretch and had 31 total. Mark Daigneault,”He helped the offense function and made plays on his own when necessary, he was outstanding tonight.” His efficiency and his assist to Darius Bazley’s game-winning shot led to the Thunder securing the game.
Oklahoma City beat the Timberwolves 120-118. Gilgeous-Alexander said,”I was just happy we got the win, obviously it wasn’t perfect.”
The Thunder will play again Monday February 8 against the Lakers.