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Timberwolves snap Thunder’s 12-game winning streak

Dec 20, 2012, 10:41 PM EDT

J. J. Barea

The schedule-makers didn’t do the Thunder any favors on Thursday, and Oklahoma City may have known ahead of time that it was going to be in for a battle that was perhaps tougher than most expected, given the team’s record, along with that of a Timberwolves opponent that it was facing.

The Thunder came to Minnesota riding a 12-game winning streak, having won the night before in Atlanta before making the more than 1,100-mile journey to Minneapolis to play the very next night. It’s a strange enough back-to-back set, and the fact that the team decided to hold its scoring punch off the bench in Kevin Martin out with a bruised quad might have been a sign that the Thunder knew they were in for some trouble.

Whether it was an instinct the team had or not, the Timberwolves made sure to give the Thunder everything they had, and that was more than enough to snap OKC’s winning streak by a final of 99-93.

Minnesota came strong from the start, and led by as many as 14 points in the opening quarter, before finishing it leading by 12. Kevin Love made all four of his shots in the period, and had 11 points, four rebounds, and four assists in the game’s first 12 minutes.

Love finished with 28, 11, and seven, but he got plenty of help. Nikola Pekovic got loose inside for 24 points and 10 rebounds, as he was the consistent beneficiary of Minnesota’s ball movement and crisp passing time and time again.

The real hero for the Timberwolves, however, was J.J. Barea.

The small guard who is an uncontainable pest for his opponent when he has it going dominated the final period, and as the Thunder tried to close the gap and retake control of the game, he was simply unstoppable.

Barea had 14 fourth-quarter points, and scored 12 consecutive for his team during a crucial stretch that lasted close to five minutes. He was hitting from three-point distance and converting inside, and even drew a charge on Kevin Durant at one point which helped swing momentum in his team’s favor.

On the OKC side, Durant finished with 33 points on 21 shots, to go along with seven rebounds, six assists, and three steals. Russell Westbrook had a near triple-double line of 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, but he also turned the ball over eight times, and with his 9-of-28 shooting gave those who wish he’d defer to Durant a bit more offensively another game’s worth of ammunition. And with Martin sidelined due to injury, there was no legitimate scoring threat available from anywhere else.

Ricky Rubio continues to work his way back from injury, and didn’t score in his 18 minutes off the bench, while dishing out three assists. It’s going to be a process for him, and this was a game where he had virtually zero impact while working his way back into shape.

The Thunder aren’t going to lose sleep over this performance, with the team sitting at 21-5 on the season and having lost for just the first time since November 23. The schedule had more to do with this one than anything else, but in Minnesota, the Timberwolves will be more than happy with the end result.

  1. abchome - Dec 20, 2012 at 11:00 PM

    Russell Westbrook had a near triple-double line of 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, but he also turned the ball over eight times, and with his 9-of-28 shooting gave those who wish he’d defer to Durant a bit more offensively another game’s worth of ammunition.

    Near quad-double with 8 turnovers as well!

  2. pariseinminnesotabichez - Dec 20, 2012 at 11:52 PM

    Bareas a monster

  3. whatsitlikehere - Dec 21, 2012 at 12:09 AM

    I like how the only reason OKC lost is because of the schedule, even though the T-WOLVES just played 3 games in 4 nights

  4. btwicey - Dec 21, 2012 at 1:16 AM

    Yea it was all the schedule … Lame. Twolves won fare and square

    • scalfor3 - Dec 21, 2012 at 2:10 AM

      That’s true, but lets not pretend that travel/back to backs don’t have an impact on games.

  5. jcavfss - Dec 21, 2012 at 8:07 AM

    What a joke of an article. The Thunder did not look tired…They were simply outplayed. Brett was clearly wearing his Kevin Durant jersey when he typed up this apologetic garbage.

    Also, a few things:

    1) The Wolves have played 3 games in 4 days, and werejust one day removed from a back-to-back road trip that sent them to Orlando and Miami. So don’t say “The schedule had more to do with this one than anything else.”
    2) The Wolves have lost 4 (yes 4) Shooting Guards to injury: Brandon Roy, Chase Budinger (who is arguably just as important to the Wolves as Martin is to the Thunder in terms of what they do for their respective teams), Josh Howard, and Malcolm Lee.
    3) Rubio is still not 100%, so the Wolves are in essence missing the KEY to their offense.

    But hey, let’s just make excuses for the Thunder like everyone else on this website does for their favorite teams…

    • raidmagic - Dec 21, 2012 at 9:24 AM

      I agree with you, I like this site but I wish it’s writers weren’t so biased. Nice win T-wolves

  6. kja22 - Dec 21, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    If the Thunder win, it’s called a hard fought victory, but if they lose, it’s because they were tired. Got it.

  7. cbt22 - Dec 21, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    Yea the schedule made Westbrook shoot 9-28 because he was too tired to pass to anyone else. This was the Timberwolves 3rd game in 4 nights too, but I am sure the Thunders schedule was so much harder than the wolves.

  8. letangusespertplus - Dec 21, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    Lets see if Barea gets fined for his flopping.

  9. lidoisle - Dec 22, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    mmm. No. You don’t give the Wolves enough credit. How’s this – Kendrick Perkins can not handle Pekovic, especially when he’s being fed by such great passing. Shved, Kirilenko and others were performing surgery on OKCs interior. That’s what got the Wolves rolling – and until OKC addresses that weakness, they are going to suffer for it, and not only against the Wolves, who were playing a great game and should be given perks for their play. The other night, the Wolves were simply better, and the schedule had little to do with it. Durant had to alter his game on several plays because he was hemmed in, too. He got his points, and Westbrook got his points, but they weren’t the easy ones they are accustomed to. The Wolves played pretty decent defense for 3 quarters. That’s why OKC lost, besides Barea’s heroics. I can’t believe that so many people who watched this game did not notice the contributions of the young Shved, who, early in the game, was slicing and dicing OKCs defense. Shved will be great. Ricky may get more pine-time to recover fully.

  10. kirschmania - Dec 22, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    jcavfss…good stuff.

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