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Oklahoma City Thunder beats Timberwolves to avoid another letdown

Kevin Durant scored 26 points, Russell Westbrook added 23 and the Oklahoma City Thunder overpowered the outmanned Minnesota Timberwolves 106-84 on Wednesday night.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: January 9, 2013

The Thunder outscored Minnesota 59-42 in the second half after struggling to put away the Wolves in the first. OKC squandered a 12-point second-quarter lead and went into halftime ahead only five.

“Our guys played hard, but we just ran out of gas,” said Minnesota acting head coach Terry Porter, who filled in for Rick Adelman as he missed his second consecutive game for personal reasons.

Minnesota might have been without 30 percent of its offense due to the absence of Love and Barea, but that didn't change how encouraging the sight of the Thunder's renewed defensive effort was. Oklahoma City held Minnesota to 43.1 percent shooting and forced the Wolves into 19 turnovers, which led to 26 Thunder points.

Unlike two nights earlier at Washington, OKC used its defense to ignite its offense and raced to 23 fast break points.

“You know a team like that is going to explode,” Porter said. “You try not to feed it and, for us, the thing we did was turn the ball over and that fed their break. They got out in the open court and got easy opportunities and ignited the offensive thrust that they had.”

The difference in the defense?

“Just taking ownership,” said Russell Westbrook, who scored 23 points with eight rebounds and seven assists. “I think if we take ownership in ourselves defensively then I think it shows on the floor.”

Durant, who scored a team-high 26 points with eight rebounds, three steals and four blocked shots, said the defensive schemes all stayed the same. The Thunder, Durant said, just played harder, communicated better and focused more.

“Against Washington, we didn't talk a lot. We were just switching just to switch,” he said. “And our effort wasn't as good as we wanted it to be. Tonight, we did a really good job of responding after a loss.”