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Thunder journal: OKC gets off to rare hot start in

MINNEAPOLIS – With a corner 3-pointer by Terrance Ferguson, driving layup by Russell Westbrook and a putback by Steven Adams, the Thunder opened an eventual 132-126 win over Minnesota on a 7-0 run.

“We came out making a statement,” Thunder forward Paul George said. “We came out imposing our will and really just setting the standard of how we were going to play.”

Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders called a timeout just over a minute into the game, and it worked temporarily.

Minnesota forward Andrew Wiggins got Adams to switch onto him, and he drove past him. But then Ferguson countered with a layup of his own. With a second 3-pointer soon afterward, Ferguson racked up eight points before the quarter was three minutes old. After getting hot early, Ferguson played all 12 minutes of the first quarter.

As the Thunder transitioned into its second unit, the Timberwolves began to find success getting out in transition. The Thunder’s quick start helped it maintain a seven-point lead heading into the second quarter.

“I thought as the quarter wore on, later in the first, as we started to get into the second, we lost some of that intensity,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said, “and they made some shots and got back in the game very quickly.”

Rotation adjustments

Raymond Felton started the second quarter, making Sunday his fourth straight game in the Thunder rotation. Donovan has reiterated several times that Felton’s increase in playing time had to do with matchups. Patrick Patterson, who Markieff Morris replaced in the rotation when he first arrived in OKC, made his second appearance in as many games, while Abdel Nader did not play.

After practice Saturday, Donovan said he doesn’t plan on rigidly setting his playoff rotations.

“You, in the playoffs, get caught doing different things,” Donovan said. “And I think that’s why you always want to keep your roster engaged during the course of the year because I think everybody’s got to be in a position to step up because if you’re in a seven-game series, adjustments, matchups, how you’re looking to play, you want to be able to rely on guys in different situations.”

Flip Saunders Legacy Award

Before the game Sunday, Ryan Saunders presented the fourth annual Flip Saunders Legacy Award to Timberwolves guard Tyus Jones. Every year, rostered Timberwolves players vote on the recipient of the award for excellence in community service.

Sunday marked the first time Ryan Saunders has presented the award, which bears his late father’s name, as the Timberwolves head coach.

“Obviously my family and I are in a fortunate position where we have a bit of a platform to keep someone we loved and love so much, keep their legacy going,” Saunders said. “Other people aren’t as lucky at times, but this is just a nice way to honor one of our players in terms of the things they’ve done in the local community, a community that my dad loved so much and a community that my family loves so much, that it does mean a lot.”

Ryan Saunders was promoted from assistant to interim head coach in January, and he won his debut at OKC on Jan. 8.

Related Photos
<strong>Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, right, drives against Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jared Terrell during Sunday's game at Target Center in Minneapolis. [AP Photo/Paul Battaglia]</strong>

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, right, drives against Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jared Terrell during Sunday's game at Target Center in Minneapolis. [AP Photo/Paul Battaglia]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-6fbec656b99024d7dbd49da3c116a02e.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, right, drives against Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jared Terrell during Sunday's game at Target Center in Minneapolis. [AP Photo/Paul Battaglia] " title=" Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, right, drives against Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jared Terrell during Sunday's game at Target Center in Minneapolis. [AP Photo/Paul Battaglia] "><figcaption> Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, right, drives against Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jared Terrell during Sunday's game at Target Center in Minneapolis. [AP Photo/Paul Battaglia] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-5abbe2b3f977514bc2ed3b2161b73b23.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jerami Grant (9) puts up a shot over Minnesota Timberwolves forward Dario Saric, of Croatia, (36) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. Oklahoma City won 132-126. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)" title="Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jerami Grant (9) puts up a shot over Minnesota Timberwolves forward Dario Saric, of Croatia, (36) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. Oklahoma City won 132-126. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)"><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jerami Grant (9) puts up a shot over Minnesota Timberwolves forward Dario Saric, of Croatia, (36) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. Oklahoma City won 132-126. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-249105cf0a257c243a98f62f0aa16759.jpg" alt="Photo - Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jared Terrell (3) looks to pass against the Oklahoma City Thunders' Paul George (13) during the first half of a NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. Oklahoma won 132-126. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)" title="Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jared Terrell (3) looks to pass against the Oklahoma City Thunders' Paul George (13) during the first half of a NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. Oklahoma won 132-126. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)"><figcaption>Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jared Terrell (3) looks to pass against the Oklahoma City Thunders' Paul George (13) during the first half of a NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. Oklahoma won 132-126. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-70d561c3ee9d66b920ef69bf953ea131.jpg" alt="Photo - Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) dunks during the first half of a NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. Towns finished with a game-high 53 points as Oklahoma won 132-126. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)" title="Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) dunks during the first half of a NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. Towns finished with a game-high 53 points as Oklahoma won 132-126. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)"><figcaption>Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) dunks during the first half of a NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. Towns finished with a game-high 53 points as Oklahoma won 132-126. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-7727075699f069c1fdb20a6a188f780a.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives around Minnesota Timberwolves forward Keita Bates-Diop (31) during the second half of a NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. Westbrook had a triple-double on the day as Oklahoma City won 132-126. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)" title="Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives around Minnesota Timberwolves forward Keita Bates-Diop (31) during the second half of a NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. Westbrook had a triple-double on the day as Oklahoma City won 132-126. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)"><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives around Minnesota Timberwolves forward Keita Bates-Diop (31) during the second half of a NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. Westbrook had a triple-double on the day as Oklahoma City won 132-126. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-e503b9188afee3d6fa49f718c24bfd53.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George (13) hugs Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) after an NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. Oklahoma won 132-126. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)" title="Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George (13) hugs Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) after an NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. Oklahoma won 132-126. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)"><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George (13) hugs Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) after an NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. Oklahoma won 132-126. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-97df558d416486ddb742560073b570ad.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George (13) drives around Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins during the second half of a NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)" title="Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George (13) drives around Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins during the second half of a NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)"><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George (13) drives around Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins during the second half of a NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-1c51a070bed70fcdc65d7e0f6ed8d4a8.jpg" alt="Photo - Minnesota Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng, of Senegal, (5) is fouled by Oklahoma City Thunder guard Terrance Ferguson (23) as he goes up for a shot during the first half of a NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)" title="Minnesota Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng, of Senegal, (5) is fouled by Oklahoma City Thunder guard Terrance Ferguson (23) as he goes up for a shot during the first half of a NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)"><figcaption>Minnesota Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng, of Senegal, (5) is fouled by Oklahoma City Thunder guard Terrance Ferguson (23) as he goes up for a shot during the first half of a NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-123bdd0753aba1ebed56fdc29669deb0.jpg" alt="Photo - Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) drives against Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams, of New Zealand, (12) during the first half of a NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)" title="Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) drives against Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams, of New Zealand, (12) during the first half of a NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)"><figcaption>Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) drives against Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams, of New Zealand, (12) during the first half of a NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-c10e85bb2bb78835ae86321a4fef12a4.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives against Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jared Terrell (3) during the first half of a NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)" title="Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives against Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jared Terrell (3) during the first half of a NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)"><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives against Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jared Terrell (3) during the first half of a NBA basketball game Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)</figcaption></figure>
Maddie Lee

Maddie Lee followed an NBA team from Seattle to Oklahoma City, she just took a 10-year detour in between. Lee joined the Oklahoman in October 2018 as a Thunder beat writer, fresh off a stint in Oxford, Miss., where she covered Ole Miss for the... Read more ›

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