The Old T-Wolves would have declared a moral victory. Hell, I'll declare a moral victory, as the powerful Oklahoma City Thunder held on to defeat Minnesota 104-100 on Monday night December 26. The Wolves led 24-23 at the quarter break and took their biggest lead at 37-30 and 39-32. The Thunder used a 14-2 run to take the lead (almost) for good at 46-41, and led 52-46 at the half. The Thunder extended their lead to a high of 12 points at 67-55, but the Wolves came back to lead momentarily 94-93 and 96-95, but the Thunder answered each time, outscoring the Wolves 8-4 inside of 3 minutes.
Minnesota out-scored Oklahoma City in the paint 60-36, out-rebounded them 53-47, and had more 2nd chance points 13-8 and fewer turnovers 12-19. But the Wolves shot 3-of-22 from beyond the 3 point arc (Derrick Williams was 0-for-4 and Anthony Tolliver and Kevin Love each 0-for-3). Michael Beasley led the way with 24 points. Love added 22 with 12 boards.
Coach Rick Adelman went with a rotation similar to that which defeated the Milwaukee Bucks at the Target Center in its 1st exhibition win. In other words, Beasley, Love, Darko Milicic, Luke Ridnour and Wesley Johnson started, but guards J.J. Barea and Ricky Rubio ended up playing more minutes than Ridnour or Milicic. A small lineup of Love, Williams, Beasley, Barea and Rubio was on the court for the final 6 minutes, but was out-scored 13-12. After leading 96-95 they made 2-of-their-final-6 shots with 1 turnover, while the Thunder shot 2-for-4 and 5-of-5 from the line with 2 turnovers.
Player of the Day: Barea with 14 points and 2 assists.
Coach of the Day: Rick Adelman.
The Rick Adelman-Ricky Rubio-Derrick Williams era of the Minnesota Timberwolves officially gets underway as the Oklahoma City Thunder come to the Target Center. The Thunder, of course, feature all-star Kevin Durant. But for the moment fans are coming to the Target Center to see the Timberwolves again including the above-named plus Kevin Love. As much as one might anticipate some improvement, it's going to be hard to see initially as the Wolves have drawn a truly brutal early-season schedule. 7 of the 1st 10 are at home, to be sure, but the opponents include:
Oklahoma City 55-27 last year (7th in the NBA)
Miami 58-24 (3rd)
Dallas 57-25 (4th, but playoff champions)
San Antonio 61-21 (2nd)
Chicago 62-20 (1st)
So come out to see the Wolves, but stay to see Durant, LeBron, Dwayne Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan and last year's NBA MVP Derek Rose.