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Sports

January 9, 2013

No letdown for Thunder

Oklahoma City rebounds from Wizard woes, wipe out T-Wolves

OKLAHOMA CITY  — The Oklahoma City Thunder got caught overlooking a short-handed opponent once.

Not twice.

Kevin Durant scored 26 points, Russell Westbrook added 23 and the Thunder pulled away for a 106-84 victory Wednesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, who were without All-Star forward Kevin Love and four other injured players.

Oklahoma City had lost its last game on a buzzer-beater against a last-place Washington team saddled by injuries to its top three players.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks mentioned before shootaround that Minnesota was in a similar situation as Washington, and his team left nothing to chance.

“Everybody locked in and focused in on Minnesota tonight,” Brooks said. “I was glad they came out, and I knew they would. We’ve always been a team that takes pride in how we play, and they did tonight.”

The Thunder took control with a string of seven straight points early in the second half and stretched their lead to 24 before pulling Durant, Westbrook and the other starters with 5:44 remaining.

“We don’t really change anything different when we have a bad game,” said Durant, who blocked four shots. “Every time we lose and we don’t play well defensively, it’s just miscommunications and lapses. Once we take those out of the game, we’ll be all right.”

Alexey Shved scored 18 points for Minnesota, which announced earlier in the day that Love would miss eight to 10 weeks after breaking his right hand for the second time.

The Timberwolves were also without guard J.J. Barea (back spasms), who has given the Thunder fits since the Western Conference finals two seasons ago. Terry Porter, filling in for a second game with coach Rick Adelman out for personal reasons, said Barea was a game-time decision.

Chase Budinger, Brandon Roy and Malcolm Lee were already sidelined with knee injuries for Minnesota.

Shved also had seven of Minnesota’s 19 turnovers, leading to 26 points for the Thunder and helping Oklahoma City to a 23-8 advantage in fast-break scoring.

It was tied 16-all after Oklahoma City’s lowest-scoring first quarter of the season, but the Thunder were still able to surpass their NBA-best 105.6-point average.

Kevin Martin chipped in 19 points off the bench for Oklahoma City, which had a 12-game winning streak in the series snapped last month in Minnesota. Love had 28 points and Barea scored 14 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter of that 99-93 win.

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