The Minnesota Timberwolves are making some drastic changes to their basketball operations, from the front office down to the bench. The Timberwolves will be operating under an interim coach when they visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday after firing head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau on Sunday.
Minnesota fired Thibodeau after he led the team to a 108-86 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, but the Timberwolves are two games under .500 nearing the halfway point of the season after expecting to contend. "We've gone ... halfway through the season, and I don't think we're where we thought we would be, or where we think we should be," Minnesota owner Glen Taylor told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "We still have hopes to get into the playoffs, and I think with half the season left, let's see if this change will make a difference." The Thunder aren't dealing with that sort of organizational upheaval but will need to bounce back after a disappointing 116-98 loss to the Washington Wizards at home on Sunday. "We did well on the road, we had some big games that we won and just one of those nights you come home and you see an opponent like the Wizards ... you just fall into that trap," Oklahoma City forward Paul George told reporters.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBATV, FS North (Minnesota), FS Oklahoma LINE: Thunder -8
ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (19-21): Minnesota named assistant Ryan Saunders - son of former coach Flip Saunders - the interim coach while general manager Scott Layden will take over some of Thibodeau's front office responsibilities. "Ryan has been around now quite a few years," Taylor told the Star Tribune. "He knows the players. The players know him. I just think that's very helpful, looking at our staff, I think he was probably the best candidate to move ahead. ... My hope would be that Ryan takes over and we play well or good enough to get into the playoffs and do well there and that Ryan would earn to be the permanent coach." The Timberwolves are winners of back-to-back games and five of their last eight.
ABOUT THE THUNDER (25-14): Russell Westbrook posted his third triple-double in the last four games with 22 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists on Sunday but committed eight of the team's 15 turnovers. "We've talked about (Westbrook) advance passing and getting it up there. We want him to do that," Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan told reporters. "A couple of those passes, to be honest with you, if they were probably a few more inches just a little bit further, they probably would have ended in some dunks." George added 20 points in the loss - the 14th straight game in which he scored 20 or more.
1. Timberwolves PG Jeff Teague is averaging 19 points and 10.5 assists in two games since returning from an ankle injury.
2. Thunder PG Dennis Schroder is 14-of-51 from the floor over the last four games.
3. Minnesota earned a 114-112 win at Oklahoma City on Dec. 23 behind 30 points from SG Andrew Wiggins.
PREDICTION: Thunder 116, Timberwolves 106 Bet Now
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