The Northwest Division-leading Thunder try to avoid four straight road losses for the first time in two seasons Wednesday night when they go for their eighth win in a row over the Timberwolves.
Durant, the NBA leader with 28.1 points per game, is averaging 24.5 on 36.5 percent shooting as Oklahoma City (28-16) has dropped three of four following a four-game winning streak. He’s 6 for 24 from 3-point range during that 1-3 stretch.
The Thunder are hitting 22.9 percent from beyond the arc in that span while scoring 97.8 points per game - 5.6 fewer than their season average - and shooting 43.8 percent from the field. After leading by as many as 15 in the first half Monday at New Orleans, Oklahoma City fell 91-89 on a last-second basket after Nick Collison(notes) committed a turnover on an inbounds play with 14.4 seconds left and the game tied.
The Thunder’s 17 turnovers led to 27 Hornets points.
“I’m proud of our guys and their effort,” said coach Scott Brooks, whose team last dropped four consecutive road games during an 0-8 skid from Jan. 23-Feb. 27, 2009. “That effort will win a lot of games and we missed some shots down the stretch that we would normally make. I would have liked to see that (last offensive) play executed and we get the last shot and if we miss it, we go to overtime, but it did not happen.”
Executing against Minnesota (10-34) hasn’t been a problem for Oklahoma City, which has shot 53.3 percent in two matchups this season.
The Thunder overcame a six-point hole with less than seven minutes remaining in a 117-107 home win Nov. 22, then rallied from a 19-point deficit in a 111-103 victory Dec. 8 for their fourth straight win in Minnesota.
The Timberwolves enter this matchup following their fourth consecutive defeat, 129-125 to Houston on Monday.
They’re allowing a league-worst 108.9 points per game, including 119.0 during their four-game skid.
“We have to find ways to get stops to win games,” said coach Kurt Rambis, whose team has dropped nine of 10. “I think it is clear that we can score, that we can get the job done at that end of the floor.”
Durant is averaging 30.9 points shooting during the Thunder’s seven-game winning streak against Minnesota. Westbrook has averaged 22.5 points and 11.0 assists in the two meetings this season.
If the Timberwolves are going to beat Oklahoma City for the first time since a 129-87 victory Jan. 7, 2009 - the franchise’s most lopsided win - it will likely take another huge effort from Kevin Love(notes).
The third-year forward is grabbing a league-best 15.6 rebounds per game, and he has recorded 30 consecutive double-doubles beginning with a 24-point, 17-rebound effort in the Nov. 22 loss.
Milicic missed last month’s home loss to the Thunder with a bruised right quadriceps.