This December 20, 2012: The Rematch
Web Editorial Assistant
One thing is certain as the Wolves prepare to face Oklahoma City on Thursday at Target Center: There aren’t many weaknesses in the Thunder’s game.
Players and fans alike recall last year’s epic, record-breaking double-overtime game in Oklahoma City on March 23, 2012. The Thunder emerged with a 149-140 2OT win, but these Wolves know who they're dealing with. Overall, the Wolves went 0-3 against the Thunder last year.
"It’s going to be tough facing them,” forward Kevin Love said. “It's a nationally televised game, it's going to really be hyped up because of the last time that we played them. Hopefully we can come out, have a good game against them and just continue to stay healthy."
Love wound up with a 51-point, 14-rebound effort at Oklahoma City last year during a month in which he averaged 30.7 points and 13.9 rebounds per game. Not to mention, those 51 points set a Wolves franchise record for most in a game. He was injured when the Wolves and Thunder met one final time last season in April, meaning Thursday's game is the first time he'll be on the court against Oklahoma City since that record-breaking night.
J.J. Barea became the eighth player in franchise history to register a triple double that night when he put up 25 points, a career-high 10 rebounds and a career-high 14 assists. It was the first of his career.
"They just have the best scorers in the league," Barea said. "They just play as a team, too, and they got shot-blockers, they got rebounders, they got the fastest point guard in the league, they got the best scorer I think, the bench is good, so all-around, they are pretty good."
Barea said the Wolves are poised to match the Thunder as they return to the Target Center with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who combined for 85 points on 32-of-54 (59.3 percent) shooting in that March 23 meeting.
Derrick Williams recalled the twists and turns of that game and said Kevin Durant's talent truly speaks for itself.
"You can’t get much better than Kevin Durant," Williams said.
Durant is averaging 27.1 points per game this season, shooting 51.4 percent, with 54.9 percent in the last 10 games. His 90.0 free throw percentage is seventh in the league.
"He’s a great player, the thing about him is his personality," Williams said. "A lot of people don’t have his personality. He’s a great guy, and then on the court he’s a different person. He’s a killer on the court. It’s tough to match-up with a guy like that who’s 6-10, 6-11, can shoot the ball like a 2 guard and come off pick-and-rolls and things like that. So he’s going to be tough to guard."
Last year, with 3.6 seconds remaining in regulation, Durant hit a long three, and Love replied with a 3-pointer over point guard Russell Westbrook to send the game into the first overtime. Westbrook's nine points in the second OT ultimately propelled the Thunder to outscore the Wolves 20-11.
"We’ll be there at the end,” Barea said. “Hopefully in the last couple minutes we can get some good plays.”
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