When Kevin Love drilled the most dramatic of his career-high seven three-pointers during his first 50-point game over Russell Westbrook, he gave his former UCLA buddy a good ribbing.
At the end of the night, it was Westbrook who got the win.
Westbrook scored a career-best 45 points, Kevin Durant added 40 and a season-high 17 rebounds and the Oklahoma City Thunder overcame Love’s franchise-record 51 points to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 149-140 in double-overtime Friday night.
”There’s a lot of great performances throughout this game, but the good thing about it was our team victory,” Westbrook said.
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 West-leading 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 140-140.
Westbrook and Durant became the first tandem in NBA history to have two games in the same season with 40 points apiece.
”That’s going to be a game that’s going to be played for a while now,” Durant said. ”It was fun to be a part of. … We made some big plays. Guys trusted each other and that’s what good teams do: make the right basketball play.”
Love, who beat Durant in the Three-Point Contest on All-Star Weekend, 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.
”It doesn’t matter. We lost,” Love said. ”We needed this game, especially the last game of our road trip against a very good team. This could have definitely been a driving force for us in these last 17, 18 games.”
Love, whose previous career-high was 43 points, was 16 of 27 from the field and went 7 for 11 on threes, hitting his first five attempts.
J.J. Barea complemented him with his first career triple-double, the first for Minnesota since Kevin Garnett did it in 2007. He had a season-high 25 points, a career-best 14 assists and matched his best rebounding total with 10.
Anthony Tolliver chipped in a season-high 23 points for Minnesota, which was without second-leading scorer Nikola Pekovic (left ankle) and Michael Beasley (left big toe) and fell to 2-6 since point guard Ricky Rubio was lost to a season-ending knee injury.
”Everybody made plays when it counted,” Love said. ”There was just a concerted effort from their team in that second overtime. The ball bounced their way with a little bit of luck and they made stops.”
Love answered Durant’s tiebreaking three-pointer with 3.9 seconds left in regulation by hitting his own over Westbrook with just one second left to force overtime.
”That’s my man, my main guy. Definitely talking trash out there, especially after he hit the one right in my face,” Westbrook said.
”He said, ‘In your face,’ He just kept pointing, like, ‘In your face, in your face.”’
Love 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 Tolliver’s three-point play and fast-break dunk with 46.3 seconds left.
Westbrook hit a jumper in the lane and, after Love was called for traveling, Durant drilled a three over his outstretched arm with 10 seconds left. Barea missed a potential game-winning three 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.
”The stars were stars tonight, there’s no question about it,” said Derek Fisher, who logged 36 minutes in his second game with Oklahoma City. ”That’s why those three guys were All-Stars in the Western Conference. I think they showed in every way why they’re three of the best players in our game right now.
”Fortunately, we had two on our side and they only had one.”
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 after losing Rubio.
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 didn’t lead between the end of the first quarter and the start of overtime, 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 113-113 with 27.3 seconds left.
”There’s still a lot of fight in us. We might be down, but we’re not out if we can just continue to get better,” Love said. ”We need to have more games like this.”
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 three-pointers in a game.