On many nights when your leading scorer eclipses 50 and you score 140 points, your team is in a near unbeatable spot. Well, the Timberwolves did just that, but fell at Oklahoma City 149-140 in double overtime.
Before I dive into the teams individual stats, let’s take some time to compare this game to the other 10 on the NBA schedule.
Of the 289 total points, only 33 were scored in transition. In contrast, in the league’s lowest scoring game on Friday (Heat/Pistons), there were 35 points scored in transition, and only 161 total points.
The Thunder totaled 33 points in the two overtime periods (10 minutes), while the Celtics score 34 points in two quarters (24 minutes).
Oddly enough, while OKC obviously excelled at scoring, they continued to play a one-on-one style of basketball. They assisted on an NBA low 40 percent of their baskets, and are among the worst in the league in the stat for the year. Consider this; the Lakers lack a true point guard and have the best one-on-one player in the game, but they assisted on 80 percent of their buckets last night against the Trailblazers.
OK, now onto some outstanding individual performances. Kevin Durant pulled down a season-high 17 rebounds, a number that (based on his 6.6rpg career average) typically takes KD nearly three games to achieve. Two of those rebounds came on the offensive end, matching his total from the past eight games. Durant also poured in 40 points, improving the Thunder’s winning streak when he goes for at least 30 points to six games. The high scoring game for Durant shouldn’t be a surprise, as the defending scoring champ sees his scoring average increase when he has less time between games.
Russell Westbrook is often criticized for looking for his own shot more often than deferring to the league’s best pure scorer. While they won on this night (and Westbrook led the charge with 45 points), it was only the second time in seven games in which the Thunder won when their point guard fired at least 25 shots. They are 34-7 when he takes fewer than 25 shots. He has found the going a bit easier against the Timberwolves in both match ups this year, as he has scored 73 points in the two games. The Thunder have played the Spurs, Hornets, Grizzles, and Jazz three times each, with Westbrook’s point total against them being less than his two games against the T-wolves.
James Harden scored 25 points and handed out six assists with zero turnovers off the Thunder bench. The scoring is nice, as they Thunder are yet to lose a game in which “The Beard” goes for at least 25, but his passing ability may well be his most valuable asset. The team wins 80 percent of the games in which Harden assists on at least six baskets, and in an offense with plenty of scorers, a player who is willing to distribute is crucial.
This game may have gone to overtime, but the Thunder faithful knew it was a win after four quarters. OKC has scored over 100 points in regulation in 69.4 percent of their victories this year, and they had 116 after 48 minutes against Minnesota.
Kevin Love led all scorers with a career high 51 points, and carried his T-wolves as long as he could. Minnesota only went as far as Love would take them, as they were even through four quarters and the first OT (Love scored at least eight points in each of the first five periods) but fell apart as Love ran out of gas (one point in final overtime). The reigning all-star three-point champion buried seven triples on this night, matching the total of the game’s other nine starters. In 49 minutes of action, Love didn’t record a single assist, and the T-Wolves fell to 2-7 in games in which their stud power forward is held without a helper. Love made 10+ free throws for the first time in six weeks, very rare for a power forward who averages over 26 points per game.
Keri Soppe’s favorite player, JJ Barea, tallied a triple-double off of the bench. We played only two extra five minute overtimes, but Barea’s stat line would lead you to believe we played three full games. His 25 points nearly tripled his season average of 9 ppg, his assists (14) more than tripled his season average (4), and his rebound total (10) was almost five times his season average (2.3).
JJ Barea – triple double. We had two extra periods, but Barea put up numbers as if we played three games. He nearly tripled his ppg (9 to 25), more than tripled his assists (4 to 14) and pulled down almost 5x his average rebound total (2.3 to 10). Barea is no Ricky Rubio, but he is filling the void left by “Testigo” quite well, registering double digit assists in his last three games.
With every 289 point game I can recall, there is at least one surprise performer. Third year man Anthony Toliver has had a week to remember, capped off by his career high 25 point performance on Friday night. Prior to this week, Toliver had scored 18 points in his previous 17 games. His 75 TS% (total shooting percentage) led all players, and (judging purely by +/- ratio) the Twolves were better with Toliver on the court than Barea.
Who said madness was limited to college hoops?