Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

January 10, 2013

Thunder overcomes inferior opponent to snap losing skid

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma City Thunder got caught overlooking a short-handed opponent once.

Not twice.

Kevin Durant scored 26 points, Russell Westbrook added 23 and the Thunder pulled away for a 106-84 victory Wednesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, who were without All-Star forward Kevin Love and four other injured players.

Oklahoma City had lost its last game on a buzzer-beater against a last-place Washington team saddled by injuries to its top three players.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks mentioned before shootaround that Minnesota was in a similar situation as Washington, and his team left nothing to chance.

"Everybody locked in and focused in on Minnesota tonight," Brooks said. "I was glad they came out, and I knew they would. We've always been a team that takes pride in how we play, and they did tonight."

The Thunder took control with a string of seven straight points early in the second half and stretched their lead to 24 before pulling Durant, Westbrook and the other starters with 5:44 remaining.

"We don't really change anything different when we have a bad game," said Durant, who blocked four shots. "Every time we lose and we don't play well defensively, it's just miscommunications and lapses. Once we take those out of the game, we'll be all right."

Alexey Shved scored 18 points for Minnesota, which announced earlier in the day that Love would miss eight to 10 weeks after breaking his right hand for the second time.

The Timberwolves were also without guard J.J. Barea (back spasms), who has given the Thunder fits since the Western Conference finals two seasons ago. Terry Porter, filling in for a second game with coach Rick Adelman out for personal reasons, said Barea was a game-time decision.

Chase Budinger, Brandon Roy and Malcolm Lee were already sidelined with knee injuries for Minnesota.

"Guys have been in and out all year, so we can't use that as an excuse," said Luke Ridnour, who had 11 points, six assists and four steals.

"Obviously, we hope he's back soon but we've got to keep pressing forward. The games, nobody takes it easy on you because you've got guys out. You've got to get ready to go anyway."

Shved also had seven of Minnesota's 19 turnovers, leading to 26 points for the Thunder and helping Oklahoma City to a 23-8 advantage in fast-break scoring.

"You know a team like that's going to explode," Porter said. "I think the one thing, again, you try not to feed it. The thing that we did, we turned it over and that fed their break, got them out in the open court and gave them some easy opportunities.

"That kind of ignited their offensive thrust that they had."

It was tied 16-all after Oklahoma City's lowest-scoring first quarter of the season, but the Thunder were still able to surpass their NBA-best 105.6-point average.

"It was an ugly game early, but I think we were happy we weren't giving up easy shots and making them score on jump shots over a hand," Thunder forward Nick Collison said. "That's what we try and do."

Nikola Pekovic added 17 points and 10 rebounds in the opener of a four-game road trip for the Timberwolves. Derrick Williams, forced into playing time at guard because of all the injuries, had 14 points and a season-high 11 rebounds.

Kevin Martin chipped in 19 points off the bench for Oklahoma City, which had a 12-game winning streak in the series snapped last month in Minnesota. Love had 28 points and Barea scored 14 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter of that 99-93 win.

"They're definitely a different team with all of their players on the floor. But we did a good job," Brooks said. "We played whoever they had and we did a good job of guarding them and making them miss shots."

After the slow offensive start by both teams, Oklahoma City used a 12-2 run to move ahead in the second quarter, also getting above 30 percent shooting in the process. Westbrook converted a jumper and a three-point play, then set up Serge Ibaka's two-handed slam that made it 36-24 with 5:15 left before halftime.

Ridnour had back-to-back steals against Durant to set up fast-break dunks and fuel a comeback as Minnesota tied it at 42 before giving up the final five points of the first half.

Shved opened the second half with a jumper before the Thunder reeled off seven straight points. Oklahoma City led by double digits for the final 20 minutes.

Text Only
Sports
  • Hooper.jpg Sparking the flame

    Sequoyah High School’s Justin Hooper looking to lead this year

    Last season was Justin’s last chance to play alongside Cody at Sequoyah High School.
    Justin had to battle to win the Indians starting tailback. The coaching staff did not know who was going to be the Indians starting running back coming into fall practice.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • NSU-fishing-team.jpg NSU teams compete in fishing tournament

    Three teams from Northeastern State University’s Bass Fishing Team competed in the Fishing League Worldwide College Fishing Tournament on Grand Lake in Grove on Saturday, June 21.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Johnson, East win easily at All-State

    Jake Johnson was able to hold off Lawton MacArthur’s Trent Meisel at the Class 5A state tournament in May. On Monday at the All-State tournament at Cherokee Hills Golf Club, Johnson had it much easier against Meisel.

    July 29, 2014

  • McMillan-blackboard.jpg Hometown brothers team up for RiverHawks football

    Northeastern State’s football program will include a pair of hometown brothers for the 2014 season.
    Mason McMillan returns for his sophomore season, and this year he will be reunited with his younger brother, Kourtland. The brothers graduated from Tahlequah High School – Mason in 2013, followed by Kourtland in 2014. At Tahlequah, Mason and Kourtland shared the gridiron for one season.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Yurcich ready for second season

    With the 2014 season on the brink, Mike Yurcich, Oklahoma State University football offensive coordinator, is ready for his second year at the helm after coaching a powerful offensive squad a year ago.

    July 28, 2014

  • James_Ethan-(12)-vs.#2CC63C.jpg Back on the line

    RiverHawks’ Ethan James returns to the line healthy and ready for 2014

    RiverHawks offensive lineman Ethan James will enter the 2014 season healthy – something the team, and James, were not in 2013.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Sooners shifting several positions

    Experience comes from encountering the same things in the same ways over and over again. Oklahoma’s Geneo Grissom and Julian Wilson have that at defensive end and nickleback in bunches.
    However, both will be seeing new things when practice begins. Grissom is moving to outside linebacker. Wilson will be getting a look at cornerback as his senior season begins

    July 25, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    The NCAA once cracked down on colleges that went too far luring top prospects, then it targeted teams that lathered players with special treatment. That was until the NCAA's get-tough approach backfired, rendering it ineffective and creating an opportunity for those who want to play dirty.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • BobBowlsby.jpg Media Week: Change is coming

    Changes are coming to college athletics.
    That was the theme of the state of the conference speech by Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby on the first day of Big 12 Football Media Days.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Peterson.jpg Cowboy quandary: OSU defense trying to replace seven starters

    A year after the best defensive team in the Mike Gundy era, the questions now surround how those few returning starters and second-year defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer can maintain that high level of efficiency.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Press Sports Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue
Stocks