Durant, Westbrook help Thunder extend win streak
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Even though Kevin Durant is only in his third NBA season, the Oklahoma City Thunder forward has already accomplished something that no other active player in the league has.
With a 32-point performance in the Thunder’s 109-107 victory at Minnesota on Sunday night, Durant extended his streak of games with at least 25 points to 28 games.
Jonny Flynn and Kevin Love each had 19 points for the Timberwolves, who have dropped five in a row.
With a 12-point fourth quarter, Durant was able to eclipse Allen Iverson’s 27-game streak with at least 25 points from Jan. 12-March 9, 2001.
No active player in the NBA has had more consecutive games with at least 25 points in their career than Durant’s current streak. LeBron James, the NBA’s leading scorer, did it 21 games in a row in 2008. Durant’s current streak is the longest since Michael Jordan had 40 straight games of 25 or more points in the 1986-87 season.
Durant, who hasn’t been held to less than 25 points since Houston limited him to 13 points on Dec. 19, was happier that the Thunder extended its NBA-best winning streak to nine games.
“It’s just me being aggressive,” Durant said. “It’s cool, but I’m glad we got nine in a row. That’s a first for me in my career and I’d rather have that.”
But in a league where high-level consistency is difficult to obtain, Durant’s scoring streak is impressive.
“K.D. is as consistent of a worker as we have on our team,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “It’s based on his preparation and his approach to the game. He prepares himself everyday to be a better player. It doesn’t surprise me that he has success. He works, he works in shootarounds, he watches film everyday and he’s going to get even better.”
Durant had to work hard to reach the 25-point mark against Minnesota. After being limited to six points in the second and only two in the third quarter, Durant appeared in danger of not getting it before scoring 10 points in the final 2:20.
And the Thunder needed every one of them to remain the only team that has not lost a game in February. They led by 17 points in the first half, but had to hold off Minnesota in the fourth quarter to secure their fifth consecutive road victory.
Westbrook, who has flirted with triple-doubles on several occasions this season, finally secured one against the Timberwolves, finishing with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists.
“It was past due,” Durant said. “He could have had five or six by now. I am happy for him. He has come a long way.”
Minnesota’s Corey Brewer, who finished with 18 points, gave the Timberwolves a 88-86 lead with 8:15 to play. From there, however, Durant, Westbrook and Jeff Green scored 19 of Oklahoma City’s final 23 points.
Green finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Damien Wilkins added 18 points for Minnesota.
Oklahoma City’s winning streak is the longest for the Thunder franchise since the former Seattle SuperSonics won nine in a row early in the 2004-05 season.
For the Timberwolves, the biggest surprise of the night was the play of Darko Milicic. The former No. 2 overall draft pick was acquired from the Knicks in a trade last week and played for the first time in more than three months.
He was on the floor when Minnesota played its best basketball and finished with eight points and eight rebounds in a season-high 19 minutes of action. Despite the Timberwolves losing, Minnesota was plus-35 with Milicic, who is admittedly out of game shape, on the floor.
“I was trying to focus on breathing,” Milicic said. “I was just focusing on breathing so I didn’t die.”
NOTES: The Timberwolves television broadcast was the team’s first-ever without commercials. In addition, fans were able to chat online during the game with team owner Glen Taylor and president of basketball operations David Kahn. … Before the game, Minnesota recalled big man Nathan Jawai from Sioux Falls in the D-League. The Wolves wanted Jawai to get some extended minutes. … Oklahoma City’s Thabo Sefolosha was in the starting lineup for the Thunder one night after being poked in the eye at New York. … In a letter to Minnesota fans, Kahn said that the team is launching its “most aggressive fan development program” in which 2010-11 season tickets will be cut up to 50 percent.
Updated February 21, 2010