MINNEAPOLIS — The irony of winning streaks is they are assembled in precisely the same perfunctory manner of losing skids. Without fail, teams stumble upon some point in a game when they either find a way to come out on top or fumble their fortune and cower in the clutch.
You won’t find a clearer case of that than the Thunder’s 109-107 win over Minnesota on Sunday at Target Center, a game that spelled out how two franchises in similar stages of rebuilding have ended up on opposite ends of the NBA spectrum.
The Thunder extended its winning streak to nine games and, really, had no business doing so. The Wolves, meanwhile, saw their losing streak stretch to six games and, frankly, should be ashamed at throwing away a gift-wrapped victory.
Oklahoma City led by 15 points midway through the third period before putting the game on cruise and watching the Wolves peel off a 27-10 run to go ahead 88-86 with 8:16 left. It was Minnesota’s first lead since 2-0, and that’s when the momentum of truth was triggered and the Thunder took control.
The Thunder threw up 11 unanswered points over the next 4 minutes, 21 seconds, taking a commanding 97-88 lead with 3:55 remaining. Oklahoma City buckled down defensively and became efficient offensively, hitting four of five shots while holding the Wolves to 0-for-6 shooting with two turnovers during the run.
"We knew that they were going to make a run, and they did,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "But we showed some composure, and we took good shots and we got to the free-throw line. I thought that was critical. But our team is made up to where if we defend, it gives us a chance to win.”
The standout during the game-deciding stretch was Russell Westbrook, who tallied three of his game-high 14 assists during the run. Westbrook found Jeff Green for a 3-pointer, hit Kevin Durant on the break for an easy dunk and slipped a pass to Nick Collison out of a pick-and-roll to another uncontested slam.
Boxscore: Oklahoma City 109, Minnesota 107