Kevin Love turned to his old college roommate after hitting the biggest shot of the night and unleashed a tiny bit of trash talk that lit a fire under his old pal.
In the end, Russell Westbrook got the last laugh.
Westbrook scored a career-high 45 points to lead the Thunder to a 149-140 double-overtime victory over former UCLA teammate Love and his Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Love had his own career night, scoring 51 points behind some serious sharpshooting that showed Oklahoma City why he is the NBA's reigning 3-point champion.
With 3.9 seconds remaining, Love caught an inbounds pass, turned to find Westbrook draped all over him and still buried a 3-pointer that tied the score at 116-all and gave the Wolves new life.
“He said ‘In your face,” Westbrook said. “He just kept pointing at me like ‘In your face.'”
Love's shot was just one of countless huge plays that turned Friday's game into yet another epic battle in the Thunder's backyard, rivaling, if not surpassing, the 124-118 overtime thriller the Thunder notched over Denver last month.
“I'm sure the fans and the players enjoyed it more than me,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks confessed.
The Thunder escaped and moved to 36-12, winning for the third straight time at home after losing two consecutive home games for the first time this season.
You want March Madness? This one had everything you could ask for.
Kevin Durant scored 40 points with 17 rebounds and five assists in 52 minutes. Wolves guard J.J. Barea, the Thunder's old nemesis from his days in Dallas, notched a triple-double with 25 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds. And Thunder guard James Harden had 25 points, six rebounds and six assists.
In the end, it was the highest scoring game this year in the NBA.
“That's going to be a game that's played for a little while,” said Durant. “It was fun to be a part of.”
A part of?
Durant and Westbrook took center stage.
After leading by seven with four minutes remaining in regulation, the Thunder watched the Wolves pull within two three times in the final 2 1/2 minutes of regulation.
Nearly each time, Westbrook and Durant had an answer.
“We've been in so many situations like this before that I think we know how to handle them,” Westbrook said. “And I think we're doing a good job of being patient, not rushing our sets and just closing out games.”
After Barea made a layup to tie the score at 113 with 27.3 seconds left to play in regulation, Durant put on his Kid Clutch cape. The reigning two-time scoring champ patiently dribbled out the game clock from the top of the key before burying a go-ahead 3-pointer with a crossover on Anthony Tolliver.
“Kevin continues to hit big shots all season long,” Westbrook said. “He's not going to stop.”
But there were 3.9 seconds left, plenty of time for Love to launch his equalizer.
“I was in his face,” Westbrook said.
Minnesota started the first overtime by going up four after only 51 seconds on a free throw and 3-pointer by Love. OKC responded with, what else, a jumper by Durant and a gutsy runner by Fisher, who tied it at 120 with 2:50 to play in the first extra period despite having missed his first eight shots.
The Wolves then used a 9-4 spurt to take a 129-124 lead. Barea appeared to have delivered the two biggest plays of the night on back-to-back possessions. He first found Tolliver under the basket for a layup that turned into a three-point play, and then he punched out a defensive rebound to a streaking Tolliver for a fast break dunk.
Just 46.3 seconds were left, and the Thunder looked like toast.
The All-Stars would save the day again.
Westbrook skied over Barea and snatched a missed shot by Harden out of the air before putting it back up and in with a short jumper in the lane.
Wolves 129, Thunder 126.
Durant then did his thing, hauling in a pass from Harden on a perfectly executed backscreen by Nick Collison that freed up Durant for a game-tying 3-pointer over the outstretched arms of Love from the right corner.
What might go overlooked is the defensive play Durant delivered that allowed him to tie it up. As Love received a pass out of a pick and roll, Durant slide over and supplied fundamental help defense, showing his 6-10 frame and spooking Love into a traveling.
By the time Durant hit the shot at the other end, a Thunder victory seemed destined to be.
“We ran out of energy and they just kept attacking,” Barea admitted. “We had the game won in that first overtime, and then Durant hit those big shots.”
Westbrook then took control in the second overtime, getting things started by turning a Collison steal at one end into a three-point play at the other. The Thunder never looked back.
When the Wolves wouldn't go away, pulling within 140-138 with 2:24 remaining, Durant and Westbrook put them away.
Durant hit a one-legged fadeaway from the left baseline. Westbrook finished a fast break with a dunk off a feed from Fisher. Durant canned two foul shots, and then found Fisher for a corner 3.
Just like that, a 9-0 run.
Westbrook scored nine of his career-high in the final frame.
“He was in attack mode all night,” Harden said. “He did a great job of pacing himself and making the right passes and then when it was his time to score be aggressive with it.”