Thunder-Timberwolves Preview

In only his third NBA season, Kevin Durant is moving closer to

territory occupied by Michael Jordan.

Durant looks to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to their ninth

straight win Sunday night when they visit the Minnesota

Timberwolves.

Behind its high-scoring forward, Oklahoma City (32-21) will try

for the franchise’s longest win streak since Nov. 5-19, 2004 when

it was based in Seattle. Durant ranks second in the NBA in scoring

with a career-high 29.8 points per game, trailing LeBron James’

29.9 for league-leading Cleveland.

Durant has scored at least 25 points in 27 consecutive games,

the longest streak since Allen Iverson also did it in 27 straight

from Jan. 12-March 9, 2001. The last longer streak was by Jordan,

with 40 in a row during the 1986-87 season.

The All-Star forward drew more comparisons to Jordan Saturday

when he hit the tying 3-pointer with 6 seconds left in regulation

and made the go-ahead jumper with 16 seconds to play in overtime in

a 121-118 victory at New York.

Durant scored 22 points after halftime as Oklahoma City rallied

from a six-point deficit late in regulation, and finished with 36

on 10-of-25 shooting.

“Jordan is probably the best end-of-game finisher of all-time,

but he’s not 100 percent,” coach Scott Brooks said. “And KD’s no

different, he’s going to just continue to have to attack. He didn’t

have his stroke throughout the game, but he hit enough shots when

we needed it down the stretch.”

Russell Westbrook had 31 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds

and Jeff Green added 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Thunder, who

won for the first time in four overtime games.

“Everybody lives for nights like this,” Westbrook said.

“Basketball players live for overtime game, big shots, things like

that.”

The Thunder will be looking for their second win over Minnesota

(13-43) this season and third straight at Target Center.

Durant had 31 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Thunder to a

94-92 victory over the Timberwolves on Jan. 20. Oklahoma City

survived despite not scoring over the final 2:14 as Minnesota

missed two chances to tie or take the lead in the closing

seconds.

Minnesota owns the second-worst record in the league, and

managed 36 second-half points in a 100-94 home loss to Chicago on

Friday. Corey Brewer scored a team-high 19 points.

“You could just see that our guys were getting more and more

frustrated,” coach Kurt Rambis said.

The Timberwolves went 6 for 18 from the floor, and missed eight

of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter.

“I’d never seen anything like that. I guess all our energy was

gone,” said forward Al Jefferson, held to 10 points and five

rebounds.

Minnesota continues to be mistake-prone, averaging a

league-worst 16.1 turnovers. The Timberwolves also have the fewest

blocks in the NBA with 191.

“They haven’t really blossomed as a team,” Rambis said. “There’s

still guys trying to figure each other out. They’re still trying to

figure themselves out. So when you take a break, you’ve got nothing

to go back to kind of hold on to.”