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Durant’s 48 points help rally Thunder past Timberwolves

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MINNEAPOLIS — Oklahoma City small forward Kevin Durant wasn’t going to let the Thunder lose a third game in a row. Not with the way he played in the fourth quarter Saturday night.

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It didn’t matter that Oklahoma City trailed Minnesota by 13 points with less than 11 minutes to play. It didn’t matter that the Thunder struggled down the stretch in losses to Portland and Brooklyn. That’s because Durant simply took over.

Aggressive from behind the 3-point line and attacking the basket, Durant scored 23 of his season-high 48 points in the fourth quarter as the Thunder rallied for a come-from-behind, 115-111 victory over the Timberwolves.

Early in the fourth quarter, Durant scored 16 of 17 points for the Thunder, single-handedly erasing Oklahoma City’s deficit. At the end of the quarter, his step-back 18-footer with four seconds to play put the Thunder ahead for good, 113-111, and two free throws sealed the victory.

“Kevin was on fire,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “He did a great job setting himself up to get open. Kevin took over when needed.”

The 48 points are the most scored by an NBA player this season while his 23-point outburst over the final 12 minutes is the best fourth quarter this season. Durant hit seven of 11 from the field in the fourth quarter and made four 3-pointers over the final 10 minutes.

Minnesota, who held Durant to a season low in the teams’ first meeting this season, didn’t double-team the NBA’s leading scorer. Timberwolves wing Corey Brewer did a solid job on Durant for three quarters, but was the defender for much of the fourth-quarter explosion.

Even with Durant’s outburst, Minnesota still had a very good chance to win the game.

Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 2.2 seconds to play. Love missed the first two free throws and turned the ball over when his missed shot didn’t hit the rim.

“Just missed them,” said Love, who recorded his 29th double-double in 32 games this season with 30 points and 14 rebounds. “I was more upset about the first one that I missed, left it short. I think they were flat and short and no real air on them. Just missed them.”

Center Nikola Pekovic led the Timberwolves with 31 points and 11 rebounds.

Oklahoma City 115, Minnesota 111

Oklahoma City   26   23   28   38—115

Minnesota          30   25   32   24—111

OKLAHOMA CITY (115)

Durant 16-32 12-13 48, Ibaka 6-13 0-0 12, R.Jackson 3-6 4-4 10, Sefolosha 2-7 0-0 5, Perkins 0-0 0-0 0, J.Lamb 2-7 5-5 9, Fisher 3-7 4-4 13, N.Collison 4-6 0-0 8, Adams 4-5 2-2 10, Jones III 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 40-83 27-28 115.

MINNESOTA (111)

Love 11-21 3-7 30, C.Brewer 6-14 2-4 15, Kv.Martin 7-14 2-3 17, Pekovic 13-22 5-8 31, Rubio 4-13 5-6 13, Cunningham 0-2 0-0 0, Barea 2-5 1-1 5, Shved 0-2 0-0 0, Hummel 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 43-94 18-29 111.

3-Point Goals: Oklahoma City 8-24 (Durant 4-9, Fisher 3-6, Sefolosha 1-4, R.Jackson 0-1, Ibaka 0-2, J.Lamb 0-2), Minnesota 7-20 (Love 5-9, Kv.Martin 1-3, C.Brewer 1-4, Barea 0-2, Rubio 0-2). Fouled out: C.Brewer. Rebounds: Oklahoma City 53 (Adams 9), Minnesota 53 (Love 14). Assists: Oklahoma City 22 (Durant 7), Minnesota 25 (Rubio 10). Total Fouls: Oklahoma City 29 (Perkins, R.Jackson, Fisher 5), Minnesota 24 (C.Brewer 6).

A—18,065.

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