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Timberwolves hold Thunder, Durant in check

The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- This time, there was no let-up, no mid-game funk. Only dazzling ball movement and sturdy team defense.

In Wednesday's opener, the Timberwolves squandered a 17-point lead and had to work overtime for the win. On Friday night, they simply outworked the Oklahoma City Thunder from start to finish in a 100-81 victory at Target Center.

As a result, the Wolves are 2-0 for just the fourth time in franchise history.

Oklahoma City, opening the season without guard Russell Westbrook, dropped to 1-1.

"Terrific win tonight," said Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman, who is not normally an effusive man. "We were very in-tune defensively. We were very active, followed the game plan. We moved the ball."

Kevin Love (24 points, 12 rebounds), Ricky Rubio (14 points, 10 assists) and Nikola Pekovic (15 points, 10 rebounds) all had double-doubles for the Wolves, who built a 20-point halftime lead, used an 11-3 run to end the third quarter to push the lead to 28 and then led by as much as 34 before Adelman went to his bench.

But perhaps more impressive was the defense. Corey Brewer did the heavy lifting in a defensive scheme that called for Thunder star Kevin Durant -- who had 42 points in a season-opening victory in Utah -- to be double-teamed every time he touched the ball.

Durant scored 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting from the field with four turnovers in 27 minutes before sitting out the fourth quarter. It was his lowest output since scoring 12 points against Phoenix on Dec. 31, 2011.

"If they played one-one-one, I felt I had a better matchup," Durant said. "Every time I caught it, there were two guys guarding me. So I had to kick it to my teammates. But no one guy is ever going to guard me."

Problem was, not enough of Durant's teammates were hitting shots. Or holding onto the ball. Minnesota turned 21 Thunder turnovers into 25 points, had a 17-2 edge on the fast break and a 44-20 edge in paint scoring.

And it started early, in a 34-point Wolves first quarter that ended with Minnesota up 15. That lead grew to 20 at halftime and then Love had 10 of his 24 points in the third quarter, which ended with Minnesota up 88-60.

"We can be very good," said Love, who has scored 55 points in two games. "I've learned not to look too far into the future. It's just two games. We just want to life in the present and continue to get better."

The Wolves again showed surprising depth. Derrick Williams and J.J. Barea each scored 10 points off the bench. Brewer and Kevin Martin had nine points each. That was more than enough against Oklahoma City.

Jeremy Lamb came off the bench to lead the Thunder with 16 points, but many of them came late.

"They pass the ball so well," Thunder forward Nick Collison said. "Offensively, they're a very good basketball team. They outplayed us, that's for sure. They're playing at a very high level early in the year."

The Wolves play in New York on Sunday trying to go 3-0 for just the second time in history. Minnesota started the 2001-02 season 6-0.

"This was a good effort," Love said. "Now we have to get back at it (Saturday) and bring Sunday the same way."

NOTES: Durant joked Friday morning that he feels like "I'm part of the city a little bit." Why? Because he traveled to Minneapolis occasionally last summer to watch fiancé Monica Wright, who plays for the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx. ... Durant and Love worked out together in Los Angeles during the summer. The two share the same basketball-skills coach, Rob McClanaghan. ... Adelman said Williams would have his chance after not playing in the opener. And he was right. Williams played early and often vs. the Thunder. ... Adelman said Brewer will remain the starting small forward for the foreseable future. ... Oklahoma coach Scott Brooks said Durant has become even more of a leader with Westbrook injured. "He's been incredible, his leadership. Chemistry and leadership is very important for success in the NBA and Kevin has done a great job leading us. ... Wolves backup C Rony Turiaf left the game in the second quarter with a right elbow contusion after a hard fall to the floor.

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