Jerry Zgoda missed the entire Kevin Garnett era, but he's back covering the Timberwolves after working the beat for their first four seasons two decades ago. In between, he covered a bit of everything: Gopher men's and women's basketball and NCAA athletics, golf, outdoor recreation, sports media and a little Vikings and Twins.

Mirror images?: Wolves lose 118-117 in OT to Thunder

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda under Wolves postgame, Rookies, Wolves news Updated: January 27, 2011 - 1:44 AM

Now, if the Wolves would only play like this every night.

Yes, they lost again, for the 35th time in 45 games here Wednesday night at Target Center.

Yes, they committed too many turnovers again when they could least afford them (including two by rookie Wes Johnson at crunch time).

Yes, they again missed too many free throws, seven compared to an opponent that made 26 of 27.

And yes, their veteran point guard once again committed a hoopster faux pas when he rushed a three-point shot with a timeout remaining in the game's final five seconds.

But...

Thunder coach Scott Brooks didn't seem to be doing the obligatory condescending coachspeak when he said afterward the Wolves didn't lose this one, they're learning how to win.

“They are exactly where we were two years ago,” Brooks said. “The record says they lost the game, but they’re learning how to win. These kinds of games will make that team better. That’s a talented team. Nice young pieces. They’re going to figure it out.”

Well, not exactly where the Thunder were two years ago because it had -- and has -- Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and the Wolves don't.

Durant was magnificent -- Brooks' word, not mine, although I agree -- with a 47-point, 18-rebound game that included 36 points after halftime and 16 straight points for the Thunder in the fourth quarter.

Afterward, Kevin Love was thunderstruck by Durant's performance, awed by a guy pushing 6-11 who can shoot right over the top of Johnson, Corey Brewer, Anthony Tolliver and anybody else Kurt Rambis can tell to guard him.

Love motioned to the locker room next to his and invoked the memory of Kevin Garnett as a comparison for what Love called a once-in-a-generation player with such length and skills.

And btw...if Love hadn't already done so, it sure sounded like he won Scott Brooks' all-star vote Wednesday night with a 31-point, 21-rebound game.

"He's an All Star," Brooks said. "He's an All Star. That's all I can say. He does it every night. That's what pros do. The pros are consistent. The good players in this league can do it every now and then. That's what makes them good. The special players do it consistently night in and night out and Kevin Love does it every night."

Consider this: Wednesday's game was the 22nd time this season Love has had a double-double in a single half alone.

He had 21 points and 11 rebounds in the second half tonight.

Only six other NBA players have that many double-doubles total this season.

It was his league-leading 40th double double and his 31st in a row, six shy now of Garnett's franchise record.

A few other things about the game:

* Why can't the Wolves play like this every night?

Well, for one thing, they need Michael Beasley to score about 30 a game in addition to Love's nightly double-double to have a fighting chance.

This team has shown flashes when Beasley scores big. He did so with his first 30-point game since late December, which also not so coincidentally was the last time they won consecutive games.

He had 28 by early in the fourth quarter, and then didn't score again until he got a single bucket in overtime.

Apparently, his ankle is better.

When he's on, this team's future looks sparkly, but will he ever be as consistent as a guy like Love?

* Yes, you have to grow with your rookies and the Wolves did so with Wes, who had two costly turnovers in overtime.

* Oh, those missed free throws...

Corey Brewer's miss -- the second of a pair -- that would have tied the game with 7.6 seconds left was the most obvious of all the Wolves' misses, but....

Luke Ridnour's miss with 12.2 seconds left in regulation time -- when he had the chance to extend a one-point lead to three -- was just as costly.

This was a guy who entered the game with the league's second-best free throw percentage -- 92.4 percent, second only to Steph Curry -- and who miss two of six tonight.

That one with 12 seconds left in the fourth allowed Jeff Green to tie the game with a little shot from the lane rather than make the Thunder hit a three to force overtime.

After Brewer's OT miss, Wes got the rebound but Ridnour, who was signed to be the veteran presence who makes the right decisions, once again didn't make the right play.

The Wolves had the ball, a timeout to call and about five seconds left, but Ridnour threw up a three that missed.

It looked open for an instant, that is before Russell Westbrook closed awfully fast.

"He was shocked, I think, that Westbrook closed out on him that fast," Rambis said. "These are all teaching points for our guys. They all know we had a time out, but he just thought that he was going to get a wide-open shot at it. If you call a timeout, you might not get that wide open a shot. It was just a decision he made and he just feels awful about it."

Well, that's all I got from Target Center here Wednesday night.

Wolves practice Thursday afternoon at Target Center, then fly to Salt Lake City for Friday night's game.

The team's public-relations department will reveal at Thursday's practice their campaign theme they'll send to Western Conference coaches to get Love voted onto the All-Star team.

I've got practice, Kent Youngblood's got Friday's road game and I'll pick the team back up at home Saturday night against Toronto.

 

 

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