In a minor slump as they continue their push toward the postseason, the Thunder look to bounce back from one of their worst offensive games of the season as they host the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.
A nine-game winning streak that began Jan. 29 has solidified Oklahoma City (33-23) as a contender in the West. The Thunder, currently sixth in the conference, are trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004-05, when the franchise was based in Seattle.
Oklahoma City, however, has had a tough week. After their run ended with a 104-102 home loss to Phoenix on Tuesday, the Thunder dropped a 95-87 decision the next night at San Antonio.
Against the Spurs, the Thunder shot 39.8 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from the line as their five-game road winning streak was snapped.
Even Durant had a subpar game, failing to extend a 29-game streak of scoring 25 points or more. He finished with 21, marking the first time he scored fewer than 25 since posting 13 in a 95-90 loss to Houston on Dec. 19.
His streak set a franchise record and was the longest since Michael Jordan’s 40 in a row in 1986-87.
“It was good while it lasted. Teams are too tough in this league for it to go on like that,” said Durant, who scores an average of 29.8 per game. “It was cool while it lasted. Very fortunate, privileged to do something like that.”
Durant notched 32 points in Oklahoma City’s most recent victory, 109-107 against Minnesota (14-45) on Sunday.
The Thunder are 2-0 against the Timberwolves this season, making 13 of 39 of their attempts from 3-point range and 40 of 44 free throws. The Oklahoma City franchise has won 10 of its last 13 games against Minnesota.
Second-year point guard Russell Westbrook(notes) had his second career triple-double for the Thunder in the last meeting with 22 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds. He’s averaging 20.3 points, 9.3 assists and 6.6 rebounds over his last 10 games.
Westbrook will be matched up with promising rookie Jonny Flynn(notes), who had 19 points Sunday. Flynn, who averages 13.8 points, was held to nine on 4-of-13 shooting in Minnesota’s 98-92 loss to Atlanta on Wednesday.
The Timberwolves have lost seven of eight after winning their previous four, and with five road wins are tied with Sacramento for third-fewest in the league.
Al Jefferson(notes) leads Minnesota with 17.1 points per game, but has been limited to 10 in each of his last four games. Big men Kevin Love(notes) and Ryan Hollins(notes) picked up some of that slack against the Hawks, combining for 37 points and 16 rebounds.
Love had 19 points and 14 rebounds against Oklahoma City earlier this week.