THE FACTS: For whatever the reason, the Minnesota Timberwolves always seem to give the Oklahoma City Thunder their best game. And, Thursday night, it was enough for a victory as the Wolves (13-11) snapped the Thunder's 12 game winning streak, defeating them 99-93. Kevin Love had a well-rounded game, getting 11 rebounds and seven assists to go with his 28 points. But it was smothering defense from Andrei Kirilenko and a spark from J.J. Barea down the stretch that made the difference for Minnesota.
Kevin Durant scored 33 points and Russell Westbrook scored 30, but it was not without difficulty. Minnesota jumped out to an early 14 point lead in the first quarter and never trailed. Despite his scoring output, Durant was noticeably frustrated by the myriad of defenders Minnesota threw at him.
QUOTABLE: "A very good win against the best team in the West. What I really liked about it is how we played four quarters. ... We knew they were going to make a run at us, but we got some stops and made some shots down the stretch. Just a terrific win for our guys."
-- Minnesota coach Rick Adelman
THE STAT: Minnesota shot 45 percent from beyond the arc, a big improvement from their previous two games where they shot less than 25 percent. Oklahoma City (21-5), on the other hand, only hit 25 percent of their 3s, a significant departure from the 40.9 percent they have averaged this year..
TURNING POINT: After seeing Oklahoma City cut their lead to one with less than 10 minutes in the game, Barea put the Wolves on his back. He scored 14 points in just a little over four minutes and gave Minnesota an 11 point lead with 5:26 to play. Oklahoma City made it interesting, with Westbrook making some big shots down the stretch, but Minnesota made their free throws and secured the win
QUOTABLE II: "I knew that we would fight to the end. That's what we do. The first quarter we didn't come up with a good start and either end of the floor. They were making shots. Kevin Love, we knew, was going to start hitting shots -- he's not a 20 percent 3-point shooter. Everybody got in an offensive rhythm. They had 20 assists in the first half, which is too many. The ball was moving wherever they wanted it to go and we weren't stopping it from moving it where they wanted it. But I'm proud of our guys. We have a great streak and we have a great month going. We lost to a very good team. We knew sooner or later they were going to get hot and they were hot tonight."
-- Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks
GOOD MOVE: Minnesota found something in Oklahoma City's defense in the second quarter. They ran pick and roll to the right side of the floor, hitting Nikola Pekovic on the roll. The result was nine straight points by Minnesota
BAD MOVE: Kendrick Perkins tried to guard Pekovic on the pick and roll, to no avail.
ROOKIE WATCH: Minnesota guard Alexey Shved had another strong all-around game. He triggered Minnesota's fast start with six assists in the first quarter and he finished with a season-high12 assists to go with his 12 points and seven rebounds.
NOTABLE: Minnesota is in the middle of three games all against division leaders: Miami on Tuesday, Oklahoma City tonight and New York on Sunday. ... After drawing LeBron James on Tuesday and Durant tonight, Kirilenko gets to guard Carmelo Anthony on Sunday. ... Minnesota waived forward Josh Howard after finding out that his ACL was torn on December 14th in New Orleans. ... Ricky Rubio played to his current 18-minute limit for the Wolves, tallying three assists.
UP NEXT: For the Wolves, Sunday @ New York, Wednesday vs. Houston, Saturday vs. Phoenix. For the Thunder, Tuesday @ Miami, Thursday vs. Dallas, Saturday @ Houston.