National Basketball Association
Durant leads Thunder past Timberwolves
National Basketball Association

Durant leads Thunder past Timberwolves

Published Mar. 23, 2009 12:55 a.m. ET

Kevin Durant had his best game since returning to the Oklahoma City lineup after missing seven games with a bum ankle. But it wasn't Durant's 30 points that caught the eye of his coach.

"Like I told him before our last game, 'Kevin, you can fill up the stat sheet, but you don't have to worry about your points to help us win,"' Thunder coach Scott Brooks said after the Thunder beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 97-90 on Sunday.

"'You can rebound, you can defend and you can pass the ball.' Tonight he had rebounds and he had assists. Those were good lines for him."

Durant had eight rebounds and five assists, and Jeff Green added 17 points for the Thunder, who jumped on the lethargic Timberwolves early to make up for a humiliating, 42-point defeat the last time they visited Minnesota.

Durant had only nine points in that game. Since then, he's been held to single digits once - and that was because he played only 8 minutes due to his sprained ankle Feb. 27 at Dallas. He's scored more than 20 points in 16 of his last 17 games for the Thunder, and 24 of the last 26.

Sunday was his best shooting night in a while, as he shot 13-for-23 from the floor.

"I've been feeling good ever since I've been back," Durant said. "I've been feeling great. It's just a matter of time before they go in."

The Thunder won for the seventh time in the last 12 games.

Craig Smith scored 19 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota and Bobby Brown fueled a late Wolves run with 12 points in the fourth quarter. Rodney Carney had 12 of his 15 points in the fourth and Kevin Love finished with 10.

After trailing by as many as 32, Minnesota managed to cut the lead to single digits in the final minute, but the Wolves had waited too long to make a game of it.

"If we had maybe 5 more minutes, maybe the outcome would be different," Ryan Gomes said.

Oklahoma City and Minnesota now have identical records at 20-50 and split their season series. The teams looked anything but equal in their last matchup of the season.

The Thunder closed the first quarter with a 15-6 surge and outscored the Wolves 31-23 in the second. It would've been worse for Minnesota if it hadn't been for Smith, who scored 13 points in the second. Only three other Wolves players scored during the quarter.

"It seemed like we couldn't hit a shot," Randy Foye said. "We couldn't even get the layups to go. ... It was embarrassing for us as a team tonight."

Minnesota, which outscored Oklahoma City 37-13 in the fourth quarter, shot 34-for-79 and gave up 20 points off 16 turnovers. Wolves coach Kevin McHale called his team's effort "unacceptable."

"I can give you 50 excuses," McHale said. "I can give you all kinds of stuff, but the bottom line is you've got to go out there and play."

It was a much different game than the last time the teams met. Minnesota's 42-point win on Jan. 7 was the second-largest margin of victory in franchise history. Foye had 32 points in that game; he finished with seven on six shots Sunday.

"Last time we played them, they beat us pretty bad," Green said. "It was good to get some revenge on them."


Smith had his first double-double of the season. ... Brooks said Russell Westbrook is "as good as any rookie in this league right now." Westbrook finished with only seven points but added 10 assists. ... Minnesota honored former Timberwolves player and ex-Toronto coach Sam Mitchell between the first and second quarters.


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