It was only a matter of time.
That much we figured.
What we didn't expect was for it to take as long as it did.
But with Minnesota missing its best two players, the Timberwolves were no match for the Thunder on Wednesday night, and Oklahoma City ultimately overwhelmed them with a 106-97 win inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Kevin Durant led all scorers and five Thunder players in double figures with 26 points to go with nine rebounds and seven assists. Reggie Jackson added 20 points and a career-high nine assists, and the Thunder became the first team this season to reach 40 wins.
Minnesota was without starting center and third-leading scorer Nikola Pekovic, who missed his fifth straight game because of an ankle injury, and All-Star forward Kevin Love, who suffered a hard fall in Minnesota's 10-point home win over the Los Angeles Lakers one night earlier.
Without them, the Wolves had to make due without an average of 43.6 points, or 41 percent of their offense, and 22.3 rebounds, or 48 percent of their production in that department.
Making matters worse, starting small forward Corey Brewer, the Wolves' defensive ace, also did not travel with the team after the birth of his son.
But Minnesota did a surprisingly good job of competing, hanging with the Thunder for three quarters before the Thunder used a 13-4 run at the start the fourth period to pull away.
Prior to that spurt, OKC never led by more than seven and spent the second and third periods staring at a margin that swung between a six-point deficit and a tenuous four-point advantage.
“We knew that they were going to play hard,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “When you have a wounded team that gives them a chance to play guys that haven't played a lot of big minutes. And everybody in this league is good. There are no bad players. There are players that are developing to become better players. But there are no bad players. Everybody can play in this league.”
Without his reliable post players, pass-first point guard Ricky Rubio became more assertive as a scorer. He took 10 shots in the opening period and finished with a team-high 19 points on 6-for-12 shooting. But he had little help.
Wolves forward Dante Cunningham scored a season-high 18 points with eight rebounds, and J.J. Barea, with 11 points off the bench, was the only other Wolves player in double figures.
Former Thunder guard Kevin Martin, Minnesota's second-leading scorer, was held to eight points on 4-for-10 shooting thanks in large part to smothering defense by Thabo Sefolosha. Martin did not attempt a foul shot for just the fifth time this season.
Sefolosha's effort was one of the few defensive bright spots for a Thunder team that watched an undermanned Wolves team put up 54 points in the first half. A 3-pointer by Durant to beat the second-quarter buzzer was all that allowed OKC to take a two-point lead into the locker room.
“It's not something that we feel great about, our defensive effort,” Brooks said. “We have to make sure that we are committed every night on that end of the floor because that's who we are.”