TULSA, OK—The Oklahoma City Thunder brought their preseason roadshow to Tulsa on Sunday night for their sixth annual visit, this time hosting the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Thunder have played six times in the BOK Center since the facility opened in 2008, facing Houston, Miami, Denver, Memphis, New Orleans and Minnesota.
On Sunday night 16,901 fans saw a turnover-plagued, stripped down Thunder fall to the Timberwolves 112-94, their third straight loss.
In all Oklahoma City coughed up the ball 23 times.
“We have to do a better job of taking care of the basketball,” Oklahoma City head coach Scott Brooks said after the game. “You give a team a lot of turnovers and give them a lot in transition the game becomes easy for them (Minnesota).
“We are trying to figure things out with guys coming back and with guys playing extended minutes but bottom line we have to take better care of the basketball. 23 times is just too many.”
The game was the end of the first full week of preseason action for Oklahoma City without their star player, Kevin Durant. Durant had successful surgery to repair the jopnes fracture that he suffered last Sunday and it is expected that the 2014 NBA regular season MVP will be out of the Thunder lineup for six weeks altogether. It was up to Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Perry Jones to be the recognizable playmakers and they did not disappoint.
Ibaka turned in a 12-point performance with six rebounds and two blocked shots while Westbrook scored 11-points and three boards. The hero of the game, if you can call him that, was the 21-point performance by Perry Jones, who after a so-so first half lit up the scoreboard in points and was the high scorer on the floor of both teams. He also had eight boards.
Overall though, once Oklahoma City got behind in the second quarter they would never regain it. The casual fan could see the lack of overall energy when Ibaka, Westbrook and Jones were sitting on the bench.
The Thunder shot 41% from field goal territory compared with the Timberwolves 47% and a dismal 22% from behind the 3-point arc. They did maker nearly 75% of their free throws. The Timberwolves drained 80% of their free throws and three Minnesota players were tied at 13-points: Zach LaVine, Kevin Martin and Ricky Rubio.
“We just gotta find a way to get it done,” A dejected Russell Westbrook said after the game, “Continue to lift out teammates up and go out every night to find a way to win.”
Oklahoma City has one more preseason test with the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night in The Chesapeake Energy Arena before starting the 2014-15 regular season on the road with divisional rival Portland on October 29th.