Kevin Durant scored 43 points and Russell Westbrook had 35 and eight assists to keep the Oklahoma City Thunder atop the Western Conference with a 115-110 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night. OKC improved to 44-16 overall and 19-10 on the road.
Durant scored 16 in the final seven minutes for the Thunder, 20 overall in the quarter. Durant was just one point shy of the Thunder record for most points in a single quarter.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks said before the game that Oklahoma City would like to lock down home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, but they weren’t “focused on it.” He’s more concerned with the team staying healthy and playing the right way heading into the postseason. After a three-game losing streak earlier this month, the Thunder have won four of their last five games.
The Thunder appeared to be taking control with a 10-0 run to start the third quarter, but Beasley and Randolph kept the plucky Wolves in the game and Barea looked more like the annoying pest who helped the Mavericks win the title last season.
Durant simply had an answer for every Wolves push. He blew by Anthony Tolliver for a dunk, knocked down a silky jump shot from the wing, scored on a back-down in the post and drove past Randolph for another bucket and a 105-97 lead with just under 4 minutes to go.
He even came up big on defense, forcing a traveling violation by Randolph and poking the ball away to create a fast-break bucket for Westbrook to hold the Wolves off.
Westbrook was 12 of 25 from the floor, and he’s received some criticism for the amount of shots he takes and not being more of a playmaking point guard that keeps his teammates, particularly Durant, more involved. Wolves coach Rick Adelman scoffed at that notion before the game, saying “everybody doesn’t have to be John Stockton.”
“If they’re really down on him, he can come over here,” Adelman deadpanned
Post Game Grades
Be Efficient: B+
Oklahoma city was pretty efficient, they took seven more shots than the Timberwolves. They kept the turnovers and offensive rebounding down. It was other things tonight that made this a ball game.
Russell Westbrook: B-
Westbrook had 3 turnovers, but finished with 35 points on 12-of-25 shooting. He was 9-of-10 from the free throw line. Also had eight assists and two steals. However, he could not stop JJ Barea. Barea had 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting. Including a couple of shots late in the ball game that made it very interesting.
Shoot the Three: F
OKC Finished 7-of-25 from three-point range. James Harden might played his worst game ever. He was 0-of-8 from three. Durant and Westbrook were a combined 6-of-10 from three-point range. The rest of the team: 1-of-15.