Oklahoma City takes out shorthanded Timberwolves
OKLAHOMA CITY — Forward Kevin Durant posted 26 points, nine boards and seven assists to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 106-97 victory over the short-handed Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Late in the fourth quarter, Durant was called for a technical foul with the Thunder leading 93-86. After Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio missed the free throw, Durant knocked down a jumper to put Oklahoma City ahead by nine.
With 1:43 left, Thunder guard Reggie Jackson waved off Durant, then drove into the lane before passing the ball to guard Thabo Sefolosha for a 3-pointer to put the Thunder up 100-90.
Timberwolves forward Chase Budinger missed a 3-pointer, and Oklahoma City forward Serge Ibaka tipped in a missed Durant layup to give the Thunder a 12-point advantage. Oklahoma City (40-11) began to clear its bench at that point.
Jackson finished with 20 points on 9-for-14 shooting and added nine assists. Center Kendrick Perkins grabbed 12 boards, and Ibaka scored 14 in the win.
Rubio led the Timberwolves with 19 points and five assists. Forward Dante Cunningham scored 18 points, and he and Rubio each grabbed eight rebounds.
Minnesota (24-25) played without forward Kevin Love, who suffered a painful fall Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Lakers in which he landed on his back. That left the Timberwolves trying to run their offense through guard Rubio and forward Ronny Turiaf.
Rubio responded with nine first-quarter points, and Minnesota trailed 26-25 heading into the second quarter.
The Timberwolves pulled ahead in the second period by getting balance scoring.
Oklahoma City couldn’t take care of the ball, as it committed 11 of its 16 turnovers in the first half. However, the Thunder still led 56-54 at halftime thanks to a Durant 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The Thunder came up with another buzzer-beater to close out the third quarter when the Minnesota forward Gorgui Dieng mistakenly tapped in 3-pointer from Thunder guard Derek Fisher. Dieng was called for goaltending, and Oklahoma City led 80-77.
Notes: Minnesota F Kevin Love (back) was a last-minute scratch Wednesday, but coach Rick Adelman said there were no worries about a concussion. “He is pretty stiff,” Adelman said. “He took a hard fall. He didn’t hit his head or anything. More his neck. Kind of whiplash.” ... Minnesota C Nikola Pekovic missed his fifth consecutive game due to bursitis in his right ankle. ... Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks likes the two-man game Fs Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka have built this season. “Ibaka is starting to have a feel for the game,” Brooks said. “Especially the two-man game between him and KD. KD is going to demand a lot of attention. Most teams will put an extra body on KD and Serge is one of the best midrange shooters in the game.” ... Durant captured his third consecutive NBA Western Conference Player of the Month award as he helped the Thunder to a 13-4 record in January. He averaged 35.9 points during the month.