MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Two games into the season, and it is clear that Russell Westbrook's knee injury has taken the swagger and ferocity right out of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The last team in the NBA that will have any sympathy for the Thunder is the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are showing signs of putting everything together after two years of devastating injuries.
Kevin Love had 24 points and 12 rebounds and Ricky Rubio added 14 points, 10 assists and five steals to lead the Timberwolves to a 100-81 victory over the Thunder on Friday night.
Nikola Pekovic had 15 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota and Corey Brewer led a spirited defensive effort against Kevin Durant. Derrick Williams had 10 points and seven rebounds for Minnesota after not playing in the opener.
Durant scored 13 points on 4-for-11 shooting and had trouble finding clean looks against a Timberwolves team that was supposed to be porous on defense. But the Thunder shot 35 percent and turned the ball over 21 times to get run out of the building.
"We can be very good," Love said when asked how good the team can be if it plays that kind of defense. "We can be very good. But I've learned not to look too far into the future. I just want to take it day by day."
After scoring 42 in the season opener against Utah, Durant scored his fewest points since Dec. 31, 2011 when he had 12 against Phoenix. Jeremy Lamb was the only other Thunder player in double figures with 16, and it has become abundantly clear very early in the season how much they miss Westbrook.
"If they play one-on-one, I felt like I had the better matchup. But every time I caught it there was two guys guarding me, so I've got to kick to my teammates," said Durant, who had four turnovers. "I've got to make better decisions in that area."
The Thunder offense has lacked its usual punch with the fiery Westbrook sidelined indefinitely.
"Them not having Westbrook, that's taking away 25 (points), seven (rebounds) and six (assists) or some crazy number like that," Love said. "It's a whole different dynamic when they have Westbrook on the team. "
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