NBA Preview from The Sports Network|
Wednesday, January 9th
(All times Eastern)
Minnesota Timberwolves (16-15) at Oklahoma City Thunder (26-8), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The last time the Oklahoma City Thunder faced the Minnesota
Timberwolves, they saw the second-longest winning streak in team history come
to an end.
This time around, the Thunder hope to avoid just their second losing streak of
the season as they play host to the Timberwolves on Wednesday evening.
Oklahoma City rattled off 12 straight victories from Nov. 24-Dec. 19, the
longest winning streak since the club relocated from Seattle and second-
longest in franchise annuals behind only a 14-game run by the SuperSonics from
Feb. 3-March 5, 1996.
The Thunder averaged 108.6 points per game over the 12-game run, but were held
in check offensively in a 99-93 setback at Minnesota on Dec. 20. The
Timberwolves snapped a 12-game slide to the Thunder, but have still lost five
straight in Oklahoma City.
Kevin Durant paced the Thunder with 33 points, seven rebounds and six assists,
while Russell Westbrook had 30 points, 11 boards and nine assists. However,
Oklahoma City hit just five of its 20 attempts from 3-point range.
J.J. Barea had 14 points in the fourth quarter for the Timberwolves and Kevin
Love added 28 points, 11 boards and seven assists, but he is out for this
rematch after re-fracturing his right hand last week.
Oklahoma City's loss to Minnesota was actually the first setback of its only
losing streak this season as it followed with a defeat at Miami on Christmas
Day. The Thunder are 5-2 since, but are coming off a 101-99 loss to the lowly
Washington Wizards on Monday.
The Thunder rebounded from a pair of 10-point deficits in the game and tied
the contest at 99-99 on Durant's 3-pointer with 36 seconds left, but the
Wizards' Bradley Beal hit a game-winning shot with 0.3 ticks to play.
"They deserved to win the game, they played better than us," said Thunder
coach Scott Brooks. "One of the things I tell our guys is that there are 29
teams that want to win just as bad as we want to. We didn't play well enough
to win tonight and they deserved it."
Durant posted 29 points, eight assists and seven boards for the Thunder, who
are 6-1 after a loss this season. Serge Ibaka scored a career-high 26 points
to go along with 11 rebounds and Westbrook finished with 17 points and eight
assists in defeat.
The Timberwolves hope to win consecutive games for the first time since a
four-game run from Dec. 7-15 as they are coming off Tuesday night's 108-103
triumph over the Atlanta Hawks.
Nikola Pekovic had 25 points and a career-high 18 rebounds, while Andrei
Kirilenko netted 21 points for a Minnesota club that had lost six of nine
"Last game we started slow, but tonight we had it going right from the
beginning," Kirilenko said. "We were making shots and playing good defense and
we got the lead right away. It was a great win."
Derrick Williams added 17 points for the T'Wolves, who beat the Hawks for the
first time since April 9, 2006, snapping an 11-game slide. Alexey Shved scored
15 points and dished out seven assists.
Though Love was out and head coach Rick Adelman missed the game due to
personal reasons, guard Ricky Rubio returned after missing four straight
contests because of back spasms. He had eight assists in 18-plus minutes off
Minnesota begins a four-game road trip tonight and is 6-10 as the guest this
01/09 10:35:32 ET