Just as they did a week ago tonight in Charlotte, the Wolves tonight in Oklahoma City played too fast, made too many poor decisions and crumbled when it mattered most, in the game's final six minutes.
On a night when they trailed by 18 points in the third quarter and led by six midway through the fourth, tonight's game, just like Friday's loss to the Lakers, showed what could be with Darko Milicic.
You know things are starting to change some when the national media in just a little trickle might be willing to admit that the Wolves' signing of Milicic to that four-year deal isn't the dumbest personnel move since the New Orleans Jazz traded the draft pick that would become Magic Johnson to the Lakers for creaky old guard Gail Goodrich.
That'll happen when you follow a career 23-point, 16-rebound, 6-block, 5-assist game against the Lakers with a 21-point, 4-rebound, 3-block, 2-assist game that overshadowed Kevin Love's 24-point, 17-rebound night.
Kevin Durant afterward called him unstoppable, which he was until those final six minutes when the Thunder took him away from fronting him with Serge Ibaka and went off on a 22-6 run that ended the game. OKC also did a good job taking away a two-man game the Wolves tried to get going with Darko and Luke Ridnour.
"We just got to find a way to finish off these close games," Darko said afterward. "We know this is a good team, a playoff team. We still got to find a way to finish up. We were up 5 or 6, we couldn't finish off the game. I think we're going to get there. I think we're going to get there soon."
He almost smiled when asked about his night, which had the Wolves bouncing with joy when he took over the game for a chunk of the fourth quarter.
"Last time I felt like the last time I played in Serbia," he said.
That was eight years ago.
"I feel comfortable," he said "We had a lot of fun. We had that run. We had a lead, so you saw us having fun, playing well. At the end of the game, we just couldn't finish up "
Kurt Rambis got a little passionate when I asked him after the game if the Thunder took away Milicic down the stretch or if his team just forgot about their go-to guy for the first half of the fourth quarter.
"We didn't forget him," he said. "Don't say that. That's completely false. We did not forget about him. They were doing a really good job of knowing what we wanted to do. They were doing a good job fronting him."
Here's the game story from tonight heavy on Darko:
And some other stuff from tonight's game:
* The Wolves went from nine down after three quarters in a 101-95 lead with a 20-5 run that opened the fourth quarter. They did it with a group of Darko, K-Love, Luke Ridnour, Wes Johnson and Anthony Tolliver, who took on defending Durant and held him to a lone jumper until Durant made four straight free throwsi n the final minute.
"For a guy like me, I know that he's used to having little quick guards on him and he usually can just shoot over them without any contest," Tolliver said. "I have a little bit of quickness to stay with him and I also have length to be able to both a shot when he shoots."
Darko, K-Love, Ridnour and Tolliver played the entire fourth quarter. Michael Beasley played 5:32 of it -- Wes Johnson played the other 6:28 -- in a fourth that was a lot like the rest of his night: He went 1 for 6 and scored two points in the fourth, and went 7 for 20 for 15 points for the game.
* The Wolves held their own in the frontcourt on a night when OKC got both Durant and Jeff Green back, but the Thunder guards clobbered the Wolves guards.
The starting backcourt of Russell Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha outscored Wolves starters Sebastian Telfair and Johnson 33-7, and Westbrook's 14 assists were more than Telfair and Ridnour combined. The Wolves need Jonny Flynn and Martell Webster back, and Ricky Rubio wouldn't hurt as well probably.
That's all from OKC tonight. Got an early flight tomorrow back home. Wolves are already there, will pracitce Tuesday and play the 12-1 Spurs Wednesday night at Target Center.