Wounded or not, when the Minnesota Timberwolves walked into Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday, the Oklahoma City Thunder viewed their arrival as a chance to right all that went wrong three weeks ago.
Minnesota made a mockery of the Thunder in mid-December, dealing OKC a sound defeat that snapped its 12-game winning streak. That loss, coupled with what transpired in Washington, provided the Thunder extra motivation to take care of Minnesota this time out.
“Most definitely, especially (a team) in our division,” said Kevin Durant at the team's morning shoot-around.
The end result was a thorough 106-84 victory that made the Thunder 3-for-3 in games that it has an opportunity to exact revenge on an opponent for an earlier loss.
After losing the season opener to San Antonio, the Thunder routed the Spurs by 14 the second time around. Oklahoma City also followed up a surprising home loss to Atlanta by shooting down the Hawks in the second and final meeting.
“We're always are good after losses and knowing what we have to do,” Durant said. “We always do a great job of looking ourselves in the mirror and figuring out what we did wrong.”
The Thunder improved to 6-1 this season after a loss and 27-8 on the year.
Minnesota was without star forward Kevin Love, who the Wolves on Wednesday announced would miss eight to 10 weeks with a broken hand. Pesky point guard J.J. Barea, who burned the Thunder in the fourth quarter last month, also did not play because of an ailing back.
But given what took place at Washington on Monday, when the Thunder suffered a stunning two-point loss to the injury-plagued and league-worst Wizards, those breaks were anything but a guarantee the Thunder would prevail in this one. Coach Scott Brooks even spoke to his team Wednesday morning about focusing on Minnesota.
“It was quick, to the point,” Brooks said. “And everybody locked in and focused on Minnesota tonight. And I knew they would. We've always been a team that takes pride in how we play and they did tonight.”