The Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves are looking to bounce back from disappointing performances heading into Monday night’s meeting in Minneapolis.
The Timberwolves are coming off a 30-point loss — their largest margin of defeat this season — at Houston.
“We just came out kind of — I can’t really explain it — our energy just wasn’t there the same way,” forward Robert Covington said.
It was a disappointing result for a team looking to find its footing in 2020 after a rough December in which it went 2-12.
“We got to grow from that,” Wolves coach Ryan Saunders said.
Oklahoma City is coming off a 125-110 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night, when the Lakers were without their top two stars — LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The game got out of hand early, with Los Angeles building a lead as big as 32 points early in the second half. The Thunder made it closer near the end but could never quite get within striking distance.
The Thunder have a young team overall, but veteran point guard Chris Paul said the lessons from a loss like Saturday’s extend far beyond guys like second-year guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and third-year forward Terrance Ferguson.
“It ain’t just for the younger guys,” Paul said. “It’s for all of us. Me too. We’ve got to come out and be ready. We talked about it, but we didn’t show it.”
On Saturday, Oklahoma City cut the Lakers’ lead to 11 in the fourth quarter. Earlier this season, the Thunder came back from deficits of 26 and 24 points to win.
“We have a bunch of competitors, and no matter what the score is, we’re going to give it our all,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “Honestly, we just love to play basketball as we just play as hard as we can.”
Since snapping an 11-game losing streak the day after Christmas, the Timberwolves are 5-4.
Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns is nearing a return from a left knee sprain that has sidelined him for 13 games, but it’s unclear if he will be able to play in Monday’s game. Minnesota is 5-8 without Towns during this stretch. He is averaging 26.5 points and 11.7 rebounds in 23 games.
The Thunder won the lone meeting between the teams, 139-127 in overtime, on Dec. 6 in Oklahoma City. Five Thunder players scored at least 21 points in that game, led by 30 from Paul.
That game made it to overtime when Towns missed a free throw with 1.1 seconds to go in regulation, and then the Wolves — who were up two — were issued a technical foul because Jordan Bell didn’t have his jersey tucked in.
Towns made the second free throw, but the technical opened the door for the Thunder, who made their free-throw attempt — and then Steven Adams hit Dennis Schroder on a length-of-the-court pass for a layup at the buzzer to force overtime, which Oklahoma City dominated.
Oklahoma City backup center Nerlens Noel has missed four games with a left ankle sprain.
–Field Level Media
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