Thunder Survive Love’s 51, Outlast Wolves In 2OT
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Russell Westbrook scored 45 points, Kevin Durant added 40 points and a season-high 17 rebounds and the Oklahoma City Thunder overcame a career-high 51 points from Minnesota All-Star Kevin Love to beat the Timberwolves 149-140 in double overtime Friday night.
Westbrook set the tone in the second overtime, stealing the ball on Minnesota’s opening possession and racing to the other end for a layup that resulted in a three-point play.
The Thunder never trailed in the period and put it away with nine straight points after Nick Collison blocked Love’s shot that would have tied it at 140.
Love, who beat Durant in the 3-Point Contest on All-Star weekend, made a career-high seven 3s and also pulled down 14 rebounds while becoming the third player to eclipse 50 points this season.
Durant (51) and New Jersey’s Deron Williams (57) previously passed the half-century mark.
Love answered Durant’s tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds left in regulation by hitting his own with just 1 second left to force overtime. He then scored Minnesota’s first eight points of the first overtime, but the Wolves couldn’t close it out after taking a 129-124 lead on Anthony Tolliver’s three-point play and fast-break dunk with 46.3 seconds left in overtime.
Westbrook hit a jumper in the lane and, after Love was called for traveling, Durant drilled a 3 over his outstretched arm with 10 seconds left. J.J. Barea missed a potential game-winning 3 and Durant’s heave from the opposite free-throw line hit the backboard and rim.
Love couldn’t keep it up in the second overtime, and the Thunder’s tandem of All-Stars were finally able to put away their first consecutive wins in more than two weeks.
After Love’s shot at the tie was swatted, Durant hit a step-back jumper from the left side and Westbrook followed with a two-handed slam to for a 144-138 lead with 1:15 remaining.
Love, whose previous career-high was 43 points, was 16 of 27 from the field and went 7 for 11 on 3s, hitting his first five attempts. Barea added a season-high 25 points and a career-best 14 assists and Tolliver chipped in a season-high 23 points.
James Harden scored 25 off the bench and Kendrick Perkins contributed a season-high 12 points despite not playing in the fourth quarter or overtime for Oklahoma City.
Minnesota coach Rick Adelman expressed before the game that he was concerned how his team would respond at the end of a franchise record seven-game road trip that came right on the heels of losing point guard Ricky Rubio to a season-ending injury.
The Timberwolves lost 15 straight to end last season and were 1-23 down the stretch the previous year.
“I worry about it a lot. I think the thing you worry about with this group is they’ve really struggled in the last couple years and you can’t give into the situation. You can’t give in to the tough schedule, you can’t give in to the fact that you’ve lost players or lost games,” Adelman said.
That was never an issue.
The Timberwolves trailed most of the way but stayed in striking distance before rallying in the final minute to tie it, first when Westbrook tried to save a ball from going out of bounds and instead threw it to Barea for a layup to tie it at 113 with 27.3 seconds left.
Then, after Durant ran down the clock and hit a step-back 3 with 3.9 seconds left, Love answered with his own 3 from the left wing with 1 second left to tie it again.
Durant missed a final heave in regulation, badly missing a 3-point try from the left wing off the top left corner of the backboard.
When Love hit a free throw and a 3 to open overtime, Minnesota took its first lead since the final minute of the first quarter.
The Timberwolves had fallen into a double-digit hole soon after Love sat down for his first break of the game.
Harden hit back-to-back 3s to start a 17-5 at the outset of the second quarter, and Durant’s jumper off a baseline inbounds pass immediately after Love checked back in put Oklahoma City up with 47-34 with 8:12 left before halftime.
Love connected on two 3s to help lead Minnesota back and Derrick Williams pulled the Timberwolves within 63-61 after his 3 to finish the first half.
The Timberwolves were 9 for 14 from 3-point range in the first half but missed their first seven after halftime and finished 14 for 36.
NOTES: After spending the past 12 days on their longest road trip in franchise history, the Timberwolves don’t get much of a reprieve: a single game at home on Sunday afternoon before four of their next five on the road. “We get to go home for, what, 36 hours?” Adelman said. … F Ryan Reid, who was waived Wednesday so Oklahoma City could sign Derek Fisher, rejoined the Thunder organization Thursday by signing with the franchise’s NBA Development League affiliate in Tulsa. … Love had never previously made more than five 3-pointers in a game.
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