The Oklahoma City Thunder continued their early struggles tonight in a one-sided loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Things were pretty bad from the opening tip on. The Thunder found themselves down 19-34 after one quarter of basketball. They would never recover from that deficit. It was a pretty bad feeling watching them scramble for points and constantly give the ball away on turnovers. You could build a wall with everything that went bad for OKC tonight. This was the game that made you realize how much they need Russell Westbrook. Either that, or they’ll need another a few months to be able to mesh as a team without him. They won’t get that chance hopefully.
Without Westbrook, it’s way too easy for opposing teams to defend the Thunder. All they have to do is turn all of their attention to Kevin Durant in hopes that the rest of the players will miss their open shots, which they’ve done thus far. Serge Ibaka went 3-of-13 from the field, after going 4-of-15 from the floor in Wednesday’s win against the Utah Jazz. Not only did Ibaka shoot terribly, he launched up four three-pointers as well and only managed to hit one.
I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come for Ibaka. The last thing the Thunder needs is for him to become too comfortable as a jump shooter. He doesn’t need to start stepping out beyond the three-point line rather than being on the low block, fighting for position to score or to grab an offensive rebound. I hope his R&B-diva girlfriend Keri Hilson, isn’t turning him into a big softy. A girl that pretty can do that to a man, trust me.
I believe that in a matter of time, none of this will truly matter, as the Thunder will eventually have their co-star Westbrook back. Loud City will be in full-swing and the role players will be able to take some of that weight off of their backs; allowing them to be more comfortable in their positions with the team. Until then, I guess everyone will need to strap in for the rollercoaster-type ride that they’re in store for while Westbrook recovers from a second surgery on his injured knee.
No one wants Westbrook back more than Durant does. He may not admit it, but you can see it in his game. He put up 42 points on Wednesday and followed that up with 13 points tonight. Without Westbrook, he won’t have that guy to take the pressure off of him when he needs it. Durant will be the happiest of us all when the stylish All-Star point guard returns to action.
One bright spot tonight was question-mark Jeremy Lamb. He saw extended minutes due to the fact that the Thunder was getting demolished by 30 points sometime during the third quarter. Lamb had a total of 16 points on 7-of-16 shooting from the floor. Rookie Steven Adams also made the most of his garbage time minutes, putting in eight points with just as many rebounds in about 23 minutes of play.
The Thunder play their home-opener against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday. The fans in Oklahoma haven’t seen their team in regular season action in what seems like forever. Loud City will be pumped for the return of their boys. Durant and the Thunder have just one day to get over their horrible outing in Minnesota and get ready for the next chapter in their season. Expect a big game from Durant in Oklahoma.