MINNEAPOLIS â€” Kevin Durant linked a lopsided loss against Minnesota from two seasons ago to the 111-103 win his Oklahoma City Thunder secured over the Wolves on Wednesday night.
He landed on an appropriate conclusion.
â€œWe've made a lot of progression as far as being a team,â€ Durant said. â€œI remember a couple of years ago we were down 16 here in the first quarter and gave up.â€
It was Jan. 7, 2009, another frigid night in the Twin Cities. The Thunder trailed by as many as 44 before the embarrassment ended in a 42-point whipping.
But on Wednesday, the Thunder rallied from a 19-point second half deficit with a determined defensive approach that completely obliterated Minnesota's high-octane offense in the final three quarters.
After getting outscored 40-22 in the opening period â€” an opponent season-high for points in the first quarterâ€” the Thunder held the Wolves to 63 points over the final three frames. Oklahoma City, partly because of a lack of intensity to start the game, watched Minnesota hit 15 of 24 shots (62.5 percent) in the first quarter and bury five of six 3-pointers.
The Thunder then held the Wolves to 24 of 69 shooting (34.7 percent) in the final three quarters, capped by a dominant 5-for-25 output in the decisive fourth.
â€œDefensively, in the second half, we were as good as we've been all year,â€ said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.
Serge Ibaka provided the most resistance, blocking six of his career-high eight shots in the final quarter. Four of his blocks in the period foiled what would have been sure buckets by the Wolves' forward tandem of Michael Beasley and Kevin Love.
â€œHe was coming out of nowhere,â€ Durant said of Ibaka.
Ibaka set an Oklahoma City-era franchise record for blocks and came two shy of tying the all-time franchise mark.
Box score: Thunder vs. Timberwolves