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(Thursday, December 20th)
Final Score: Minnesota 99, Oklahoma City 93
Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) - The Minnesota Timberwolves used a fourth- quarter scoring barrage from J.J. Barea and a solid all-around effort from Kevin Love to halt the Oklahoma City Thunder's 12-game winning streak in a 99-93 decision at Target Center.
The Timberwolves, losers of 12 straight against their Northwest Division rivals coming in, had allowed five consecutive opponents to score over 100 points, but held the NBA's highest scoring team to 40 percent shooting.
Barea erupted for 14 points in the final frame, while Love added 28 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists for Minnesota, which improved to 8-3 at home. Nikola Pekovic chipped in 24 points and 10 boards in the unlikely victory.
The Thunder were led by Kevin Durant's 33 points, seven rebounds and six assists, though it wasn't enough to extend the club's longest winning streak since relocating to Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook finished with 30 points, 11 boards and nine helpers, but shot just 9-of-28 from the floor and committed eight turnovers.
The visitors trailed throughout in suffering their first defeat since Nov. 23 at Boston. They scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to close their gap to 76-75, but Barea responded with a pull-up jumper and later went on a personal 8-0 flurry, twice hitting from behind the arc as the margin swelled to 88-77 with under seven minutes remaining.
"We just needed a little run from somebody, and I just got in a good rhythm and stayed aggressive," Barea said.
Two Durant free throws cut the deficit to 89-81, only to have Barea, who scored four points in the first three quarters, stop the momentum by connecting from a healthy 28 feet.
"We just couldn't get over the hump," Durant said. "Barea came out and hit some tough ones."
The usually even-tempered Durant was hit with a technical foul with 2:24 remaining after he ran over Barea, was whistled for a charge and slammed the ball onto the court.
Still, free throws allowed Oklahoma City to pull within 97-93 in the closing seconds, and Luke Ridnour needed to drain two from the foul line with 9.5 ticks left to close things out.
The Timberwolves were on top by 14 early on when Alexey Shved drained a 3- pointer for a 25-11 cushion with three minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Love and Pekovic combined for 20 points in the opening 12 minutes en route to a 30-18 advantage, and the hosts went into the break holding a 53-44 edge.
Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka scored two of his 14 points in the second half ... The Thunder were 11-1 when both Durant and Westbrook scored more than 20 points ... Oklahoma City fell to 5-1 on the second night of a back-to-back ... Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio did not score in 18-plus minutes ... Shved logged 12 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds ... Before the game, the Timberwolves waived forward/guard Josh Howard after an MRI revealed a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee ... The Thunder do not play until they take on the Miami Heat on Christmas Day in a rematch of last season's NBA Finals ... Minnesota is next in action on Sunday against the Knicks.
12/20 22:46:08 ET
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