Timberwolves-Thunder Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 09, 2013
Kevin Durant thinks the Oklahoma City Thunder didn't take their last opponent seriously enough, resulting in a loss to the worst team in the NBA. Their latest meeting with the Minnesota Timberwolves also ended in defeat. Durant and the Thunder hope a brief stop home can help them regain their momentum and re-establish their dominance of the shorthanded Timberwolves on Wednesday night. Oklahoma City (26-8) seemed to be in ideal position to win a third straight Monday, facing lowly Washington. However, the Thunder missed 16 straight shots at one point and were left with a stunning 101-99 loss after Bradley Beal hit a jumper with 0.3 seconds remaining. "We let them stick around, because we're not taking them serious enough," said Durant, who had 29 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals. "We can't do that, man. We can't do that." Durant and the Thunder aren't likely to overlook the Timberwolves (16-15) after a 99-93 loss at Minnesota on Dec. 20 ended their 12-game winning streak in the series. Returning home should benefit the Thunder, who are 17-3 there. They've also won five in a row at Chesapeake Energy Arena against the Timberwolves, averaging 120.4 points on 52.9 percent from the floor. Durant kept that streak going with 40 points and 17 rebounds in a 149-140, double-overtime win in the most recent matchup in Oklahoma City on March 23. The venue hasn't really mattered for the superstar forward since he's averaging 35.2 points and 9.3 boards in the past nine overall meetings, including 33 points last month. Russell Westbrook had 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in that game, giving him averages of 34.5 points and 7.3 assists over the last four matchups. The All-Star guard wasn't nearly that productive Monday, going 4 for 17 from the field while finishing with 17 points and eight assists. The Timberwolves are trying to win back-to-back games for the first time since a four-game winning streak from Dec. 7-15. They're 4-6 since, but coming off Tuesday's 108-103 win over Atlanta despite being without coach Rick Adelman (personal reasons) and star big man Kevin Love (broken right hand). While Love isn't expected to return any time soon, Adelman's status is unclear and could mean assistant Terry Porter taking the reins again. Ricky Rubio is expected to play games on consecutive days for the first time since returning from ACL surgery last month. The guard had eight assists, four points and four steals Tuesday after missing the previous four games with back spasms. He's also struggled with groin and back problems. "I think it's going to be a good test," said Rubio, who had three assists and no points while missing all three shots in 18 minutes against the Thunder on Dec. 20. Nikola Pekovic has put together impressive performances in each of the last two games while trying to pick up the slack for the injured Love. The center scored 25 points with 18 rebounds against the Hawks after getting 21 and 15 in a 102-97 loss to Portland on Saturday. He had 24 points and 10 boards against Oklahoma City last month.
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