So far in 2009, it would be hard for them to look much better.
Foye matched his career high with 32 points in just three quarters and the Wolves won their fourth straight game, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 129-87 on Wednesday night.
“It’s just great to be talking about these wins,” said Foye, who also had six assists in the second most lopsided victory in franchise history.
“Early on we lost 13 in a row and I was getting tired of the same old broken record—we’re getting better, we’re getting better. Now we’re saying we’re getting better and I know you guys can see it.”
Al Jefferson added 21 points and 13 rebounds for Minnesota, which has won six of its last eight after that demoralizing 13-game skid dropped them to 4-23 on Dec. 23.
“They’re confident and they’re feeling good about playing basketball again,” coach Kevin McHale said. “It’s no fun when you’re getting stomped.”
Just ask the Thunder.
Russell Westbrook had 16 points and a career-high 12 assists for Oklahoma City, which was overwhelmed in every phase of the game.
“There was nothing positive about this game,” coach Scott Brooks said. “We showed lack of focus from the start. That’s unacceptable. We’ve got to bring it every night.”
After hand-delivering a victory over Memphis on Tuesday night with a deep 3-pointer and a block on O.J. Mayo in the final minute, Foye set the tone against the Thunder with an incredible first quarter.
Foye made all six of his field goals—including three 3-pointers—and scored 18 points. The Timberwolves shot 75 percent in the period to lead 42-24, setting a season high for points in a quarter.
Shooting and attacking the rim from the jump, this is the kind of player the team envisioned when it traded future All-Star Brandon Roy to Portland on draft night for Foye and cash.
But a major knee injury last year, and a failed attempt to make him a point guard, slowed his progress. As Foye continued to struggle and Roy emerged as one of the brightest young stars in the league out West, criticism of the player and Kevin McHale, the man who engineered the transaction, mounted.
Ever since Foye has been moved primarily to shooting guard, the production gap has narrowed. Foye has averaged 25.3 points in the last three games and has flourished since McHale took over for coach Randy Wittman on Dec. 8.
“Foye is a terrific player,” Brooks said. “He had a hot hand. We could’ve done a better job of keeping him out of the paint and contesting his shots.”
It was an enormous step back for a young Thunder team that, like the Wolves, had been playing better of late after a horrendous start to the season.
Oklahoma City had won two of its last three, with the lone loss coming on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Denver’s Carmelo Anthony, after a 3-29 start.
But all the energy, intensity and offensive execution that Brooks has praised in the last week was nonexistent at Target Center. They were outscored 62-40 in the paint, gave up 32 points on 16 turnovers and were outrebounded 57-38.
Kevin Durant, who entered the night leading the Thunder in scoring at 23.9 points per game, scored a season-low nine points on just 3-of-13 shooting, the first time all season he’s been held under 12 points.
“Its tough. We played so hard (Tuesday) night and in games before,” Durant said of his Thunder, which was coming off a victory over New York and looking to win two in a row for the first time this season. “To come out and not even show up is tough.”
Thunder C Nenad Krstic played his first game for Oklahoma City since being signed as a restricted free agent out of Russia on Dec. 30. He finished with six points in 16 minutes. … Thunder coach Scott Brooks returned to the city he played for two years in 1990-92. “I have great memories here,” he said. “I was a sorry backup point guard for two years. Hopefully I’m a better head coach.” … Wolves rookie Kevin Love had 16 points and tied a career high with 15 rebounds.