Thunder-Timberwolves Preview

The Associated Press

Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks doesn't expect Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to both have their shots falling every night.

Perhaps those expectations should be different when they're facing the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The league-best Thunder will try to extend their winning streak to 13 on Thursday night in Minneapolis, where they'll also go for a 13th consecutive victory over the Timberwolves.

The NBA's only teammates averaging at least 20 points, Durant (27.7) and Westbrook (21.1) combined for 68 in Wednesday's 100-92 victory at Atlanta. Westbrook scored 21 of his 27 in the opening 24 minutes, while Durant took over in the second half with 28 of his season-best 41.

Their performances helped Oklahoma City (21-4) move within two of matching the team record for consecutive wins set by the Seattle SuperSonics in 1996.

"There's going to be nights where one has the hot hand and there's going to be other nights the other does,'' Brooks said after the team's fourth consecutive road victory.

They weren't any nights last season when Durant and Westbrook were struggling versus Minnesota.

Durant averaged 38.7 points on 58.3 percent shooting in the three wins, while Westbrook scored 36.0 points per game on 52.7 percent from the field.

On March 23, they became the first tandem in league history to have two games in the same season with 40 points apiece as Westbrook poured in a career-best 45 and Durant added 40 in a 149-140 double-overtime home win.

Oklahoma City will get its first look at Kevin Love since he hit a career high seven 3-pointers and finished with a franchise-best 51 points in that contest. Love missed the last meeting against the Thunder, a 115-110 home loss on April 14, due to a concussion.

"It's going to be tough facing them," Love told the Timberwolves' official website. "... Hopefully we can come out, have a good game against them and just continue to stay healthy."

Facing a Thunder team that's holding opponents to 41.7 percent shooting during its surge might not help Love find his range. He's shooting 29.2 percent (19 for 65) over his last five games after missing eight of 10 in Tuesday's 103-92 loss at Miami.

Love (18) and center Nikola Pekovic (12) continued their strong work on the glass as Minnesota (12-11) outrebounded the Heat by 28, but it wasn't enough to prevent an 0-2 Florida trip.

"I like the way our guys battled,'' said coach Rick Adelman, whose team had won a season-best four straight prior to these losses. "We just have to respond.''

Ricky Rubio should be available for the third time this season after he rested Tuesday when Minnesota completed its back-to-back. The team is easing the Spanish point guard back into the rotation following an ACL injury.

Guard J.J. Barea, the team leader off the bench this month with 11.8 points and 5.0 assists, averaged 21.0 points, 8.7 assists and 5.0 boards against the Thunder last season. He recorded his first career triple-double March 23 with 25 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds.

"(The Thunder) just have the best scorers in the league," Barea said. "They just play as a team, too, and they got shot-blockers, they got rebounders, they got the fastest point guard in the league, they got the best scorer I think, the bench is good, so all-around, they are pretty good."

Oklahoma City's last loss to Minnesota was 129-87 on Jan. 7, 2009.