Wolves Thursday: Thunder present big test

December 20, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS – The last time the Timberwolves played the Thunder, on April 14, they lost by five points, 115-110, and the game was within two points with just 16 seconds left.

The time before that, on March 23, it went to double overtime, another Timberwolves loss, 149-140. That night, J.J. Barea had a triple-double and Kevin Love scored a career-high 51 points. Barea finished with 25, Anthony Tolliver with 23, Kevin Durant with 40, James Harden with 25 and Russell Westbrook with 45.

And the time before that, to open 2011-12, it was 104-100 Thunder, on Dec. 26, 2011. Like that April game, it came down to the final seconds and was within two points with just three seconds left.

Those games, all three, could have easily been Thunder blowouts. The first, the Timberwolves had hardly hit their stride, and the next two, they were without Ricky Rubio. But somehow the games were closer than anyone imagined, the nearest things to moral victories the Timberwolves had last season. So it's no wonder that this one tonight was picked up by TNT; if last year is any indication, it could be fun.

Here are some quick facts about tonight's matchup:

- The Thunder are on a 12-game winning streak, coming off a 100-92 win in Atlanta Wednesday.

- The Timberwolves have lost two in a row, in the midst of one of the toughest stretches of their season; they had Miami Tuesday, Oklahoma City tonight and New York Saturday.

- Barea's triple-double on March 23 was the first of his career and the first of any Timberwolves player since 2007. He finished the night with 25 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists.

- Love's 51 points that night were a franchise record.

- The teams' combined 289 points that night was the fifth-highest in an NBA game in the past 15 years.

- Durant this season has the second-highest PER in the league, 27.78. He's averaging 27.7 points per game, third-best in the NBA.

- The Thunder are averaging 105.6 points per game this season, best in the NBA. The Timberwolves are 21st, averaging 95.5.

- The Thunder's 48.5 percent shooting from the field is also the best in the NBA, whereas the Timberwolves' 43.3 is 23rd.

- The Timberwolves have allowed opponents 94.4 points per game this season, tied for seventh in the NBA. The Thunder have allowed 96.1 per game, ninth-best in the league.

Follow Joan Niesen on Twitter.