The Minnesota Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder are not very good basketball teams right now. But that didn't stop them from putting on an exciting show at the Ford Center on Friday night.
There was something about what went on in Oklahoma City last night that was, for lack of a better term, simply human. The basketball was quite flawed, and the fans knew it, but for two teams that are now a combined 5-26 on the year, the environment seemed as intense as possible in what was ultimately a two-point win for the Wolves.
The home team went to the fourth quarter down nine and trailed by five with less than two minutes to play. But the crowd went wild when Jeff Green hit his fourth three of the game to cut the Wolves' lead to two. Green was fantastic last night, shooting 8-for-13 from the field and 4-for-6 from deep en route to 22 points. His outside stroke looks much improved from his rookie season, and last night proved no exception. That Kevin Durant was the first man up off the bench to congratulate Green after an earlier bucket to force a Minny timeout was just a bonus.
Speaking of Durant, he had his moments, too. When he drained the three to put the Thunder on top by one with 1:05 to play, the home announcers went nuts, and the fans cheered to Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Part 2" all the way through the ensuing timeout. It would also be Durant who later flew past a slow-rotating Al Jefferson for a game-tying dunk with just outside three seconds to play.
The fans were raucous, and the announcers did their share to add to the chaos as well. First, the home crew attempted to justify Chris Wilcox fouling Al Jefferson on an entry pass with a one-point lead and ten seconds to play by saying that this would allow the Thunder the last possession. Never mind the fact that said possession could have come with the team trailing rather than leading as a result of this foul.
But that comment would be proven pedestrian by the gaffe that followed. After Jefferson hit one of two, Nick Collison fouled Ryan Gomes on the rebound, and the crew immediately asserted, "You have to foul there." Eight seconds to play. In a tie game. Oh, boy.
The Wolves saved the best for last, after Gomes hit two freebies and Durant dunked to keep the game tied with three seconds to play. Mike Miller showed us once more why he has made a living as a shooter in this league, ball-faking his man in the left corner, taking one dribble down the baseline and calmly draining the winner with one-tenth of a second to play.
Youthful mistakes. Clutch shots for the home team's stars. An excited crowd. Announcing issues of all sorts. And an ice-in-the-veins buzzer-beater to finish it: For once, there is no sarcasm here when we tell you that the Wolves and Thunder really did play a barn-burner last night.