Thunder take aim at 13th straight win vs. Timberwolves
The dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are up to their old scoring tricks for the red-hot Oklahoma City Thunder and will try to lead the team to a 13th straight win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Durant and Westbrook scored 41 and 27 points, respectively, in Wednesday's 100-92 road win against the Atlanta Hawks. Durant added 13 rebounds and three assists to his total, while Westbrook dished out 11 assists for Oklahoma City, winners of 12 in a row and 20 of its last 22 games.
"I think the best part about it was that my teammates wanted me to shoot, to take the tougher shots," said Durant, who is a three-time scoring champion and currently third in the NBA with 27.7 ppg. "That always gives me confidence. I just try to go out there and come through for us."
Serge Ibaka finished with four points and a game-high 14 rebounds to help extend the longest winning streak in franchise history since a 14-game run back in the 1995-96 season, when the team was known as the Seattle SuperSonics.
The scoring tandem of Durant and Westbrook has carried the Thunder to an NBA- best 21-4 record. The Thunder are 11-1 this season when both superstars score more than 20 points and lead the league with 105.6 ppg. Durant, who made 14 of his 23 attempts Wednesday night, and Westbrook combined to score a total of 51.6 points per game last season.
Westbrook is sixth in the NBA with 21.1 ppg.
The Northwest Division-leading Thunder have an 18-1 record when reaching the century mark in scoring and are 10-0 when shooting 50 percent from the floor this season. OKC, which last tasted defeat Nov. 23 at Boston, made just 42.9 percent of its shots in the win over the Hawks.
Oklahoma City has won four in a row on the road and is 7-2 as the visitor. It will close out a three-game trek at Miami on Christmas.
Meanwhile, the Timberwolves have lost back-to-back games since a four-game winning streak and are back in the Twin Cities following a brief sojourn.
In Tuesday's 103-92 loss at the Heat, Andrei Kirilenko had 22 points and Nikola Pekovic registered 18 points and 12 rebounds for Minnesota, which lost despite having a 52-24 edge on the boards and a 58-36 advantage in the paint.
The rebound margin was the largest for any team in a loss since Jan. 6, 1994, when Golden State was outrebounded by 35 and beat San Antonio, 102-98.
"We kept battling those guys at the end," said Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman. "We came in and cut it down to eight. That's what you want to see."
Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio, who made his return from a torn ACL on Saturday, was held out of the contest with the team having played on consecutive nights. He is questionable versus the Thunder.
All-Star forward Kevin Love had 11 points and 18 rebounds in the loss to Miami and is listed as probable tonight with a right arm/shoulder issue. Love leads the Wolves with 19.0 points per game.
Minnesota, which is averaging 53.2 ppg in the first half over the past 11 contests, hopes to extend its four-game home winning streak Wednesday night and is 7-3 at the Target Center this season.
The T'Wolves lost all three meetings with Oklahoma City a season ago and have dropped 12 in a row and 20 of the past 24 matchups in the series. The Thunder have won seven straight and 10 of 11 trips to the Twin Cities.