Timberwolves 101, Thunder 93

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves, ravaged by injuries all season, aren't going to the playoffs. Still, they joined some pretty select company Friday night at Target Center.
With a gutty 101-93 victory over Oklahoma City the Wolves (26-45) became the fifth team this season to win multiple games against the Western Conference powerhouse this season.
Select company? The other teams are San Antonio, Miami, Memphis and Denver.
Guard Ricky Rubio scored 17 points and had seven assists and four steals for the Wolves. Center Nikola Pekovic had 22 points and 15 rebounds. Chase Budinger had 13 and Andrei Kirilenko had 12.
Kevin Durant scored 36 points and Russell Westbrook added 18 for Oklahoma City.
The Wolves victory gave them a 2-2 season split against the Thunder (53-20). It was also their third victory in five games. The loss broke a three-game winning streak for the Thunder, still chasing San Antonio for the best record in the Western Conference.
Up just three entering the fourth quarter, the Wolves slowly built on their lead. Pekovic's put-back, followed by Dante Cunningham's jumper from the top of the key pushed the Wolves lead to 88-81 with 6:34 left.
Coming out of a time out Rubio fed Cunningham for a layup. After a Durant miss Rubio fed Pekovic and the 8-0 run gave the Wolves a 92-81 lead with 5:19 left.
Serge Ibaka scored for the Thunder, igniting a 6-0 run that included four points from Durant and the lead was down to five.
But the Wolves didn't fold. Kirilenko hit one of two free throws with 2:56 left. After Westbrook missed, Pekovic tipped in the miss of Budinger's three-point attempt with 1:34 left, giving the Wolves a 95-87 lead.
Serge Ibaka missed a shot coming out of a time out, then Rubio hit two free throws with 1:06 left for a 97-87 lead, one the Thunder couldn't overcome.
The Wolves out-rebounded the Thunder 46-41 and had edges in both points in the paint (44-38) and second-chance points (21-15).
Pekovic had eight points and seven rebounds for the Wolves, who used strong rebounding to make up for cool shooting in a first quarter that ended tied at 23.
The Thunder scored the first seven points of the second quarter, but the Wolves reserves responded with a 14-4 run that featured two three-pointers by Budinger, to take a 37-34 lead. Then Rubio scored seven points in the final 2 1/2 minutes of the half to help give the Wolves a 53-48 halftime lead.
Pekovic -- who scored 10 of his points in the third quarter -- had the first six points in an 8-0 run that gave the Wolves a 72-63 lead with 4 1/2 minutes left in the third before the Thunder closed the gap to 80-77 on Durant's bank-in at the end of the quarter.
NOTES: Kevin Love's surgically-repaired right hand will be re-examined by his New York surgeon next week, not this week as had originally been hoped. The decision was made after the Timberwolves' medical staff consulted with Love's New York doctor. The exam still falls within the two- to three-week window reported after the last consultation. It's unclear whether Love will have to travel to New York. Likely a CT scan of the hand that is sent to New York would suffice. But it raises anew the question of whether Love -- who broke his hand twice this season, most recently Jan. 3 at Denver -- will play again this season. ... Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks has a short list of items he'd like to see his team work on during the final 10 games to prepare for the playoffs. "We still have what we call ways to get better," Brooks said. "Taking care of the ball, talking about our spacing, putting a wrinkle in here or there." ... After the league said a foul should have been called on Kobe Bryant on Ricky Rubio's last-second 3-point attempt Wednesday, Wolves coach Rick Adelman said the league should look at expanding video review. ... Wolves forward Dante Cunningham injured his right (shooting) hand in the first half.

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