Thunder at Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves haven’t made the NBA playoffs since 2004 so the word “letdown” typically doesn’t apply to the organization. But Minnesota will certainly have a hard act to follow up when it hosts the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday just 48 hours after pounding the Cleveland Cavaliers into submission.
The Timberwolves led by as much as 41 points while steamrolling Cleveland and finishing with a 127-99 victory to move 10 games above .500. “We’re playing good basketball,” Minnesota small forward Andrew Wiggins told reporters. “Everyone’s playing together. We’re giving the fans what they want to see.” Oklahoma City has lost back-to-back contests and four of its last six games and is coming off a lackluster 117-106 home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. “I think it’s a lack of energy,” Thunder forward Carmelo Anthony said after Tuesday’s setback. “We played in spurts. I think the last two games the energy has just been down. With that, we were one step behind on a lot of plays. We didn’t put a full game together these past two games.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN, FSN Oklahoma, FSN North (Minnesota)
ABOUT THE THUNDER (22-19): Star point guard Russell Westbrook had 22 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds against Portland but even he had his struggles. Westbrook was just 7-of-20 shooting and committed six turnovers – marking the third straight game he was saddled with a half-dozen miscues. Forwards Paul George (22 points on 8-of-18 shooting) and Anthony (19 on 8-of-17) also made less than 50 percent of their shots as Oklahoma City just shot 44 percent from the field.
ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (26-16): Jimmy Butler contributed 21 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and three steals in the demolition of the Cavaliers and has been the element the team has missed in recent seasons. Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau targeted Butler and finally landed him in an offseason deal with the Chicago Bulls and the three-time All-Star is flourishing in Minnesota. “What he’s doing every night, it’s amazing, but it’s also bringing the best out of everyone on the team, and to me that’s the true mark of greatness,” Thibodeau told reporters.
1. Karl-Anthony Towns averaged 27.7 points and 13.3 rebounds as the Timberwolves won two of this season’s first three meetings.
2. Oklahoma City SG Andre Roberson (knee) will miss his sixth consecutive contest.
3. Minnesota PG Jeff Teague (knee) will likely miss his eighth straight game.