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SPORTS: Oklahoma City Thunder

Thunder Gets Back On Track Against T-Wolves

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

For the first time in 13 days the Oklahoma City Thunder can put one in the win column.

And not only did the Thunder put its season-long three-game losing streak to rest, it did it in convincingly.

Oklahoma City beat Minnesota 127-111 at Chesapeake Energy Arena and, while topping the Kevin Love-less Timberwolves isn't a monumental task, the way the Thunder played should curb some of the recent criticism the team has faced during its three-game skid.

The Thunder spread the wealth and took smart shots, as evidenced by a 57.8 percent shooting performance and a 64.3 percent effort from 3-point range. OKC outplayed the Wolves in nearly every way from a statistical standpoint, losing only the turnover battle 17-10.

And the Thunder once again looked like a juggernaut from the foul line, converting on all 22 attempts from the stripe.

Russell Westbrook led the charge from the start, finishing with a game-high 37 points on 13-of-22 shooting, including 2-of-2 from 3 and 9-for-9 from the free-throw line. He had his mid-range game working but didn't settle for it either, routinely exploding through the soft defense for acrobatic finishes at the rim.

Westbrook also dished out nine assists and pulled in seven rebounds.

Kevin Durant chipped in a seemingly effortless 27 points on 9-of-17 shooting with seven rebounds. Durant often doesn't receive enough praise for his passing ability but it was on full display Friday night with seven assists.

Kevin Martin added 19 points off the bench on 7-of-11 shooting and 2-of-4 from 3.

Kendrick Perkins looked extremely lively in his first action since returning from an injury that kept him out of the Houston loss. Perk was the only other Thunder player in double figures with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting and he also played well on the defensive end. Perkins hauled in seven rebounds while also limiting Nikola Pekovic – a major struggle for Perkins in the past – to just five points and two rebounds.

Oklahoma City led by eight at halftime despite shooting a whopping 60 percent from the floor and 62.5 percent from 3. OKC turned up the defensive intensity and turned down the turnovers in the second half, leading to a 34-25 third quarter that virtually put the game out of reach heading into the fourth.

OKC was far too much for the T-Wolves offensively all night and even hit the 100-point mark in the third quarter off a Perkins dunk with 25 seconds remaining in the period.

Reserve point guard Alexey Shved led Minnesota with 17 points off the bench. It was an extremely balanced effort from the Wolves overall as seven players reached double figures and an eighth – Derrick Williams – had nine.

Ricky Rubio had a well-rounded performance with 13 points, nine assists, five rebounds and five steals.

Minnesota shot 48.2 percent from the floor but struggles on just 6-of-17 (35.3 percent) from behind the arc. The loss dropped the struggling Wolves to 20-32 on the season and 7-19 on the road.

Meanwhile, OKC improved to 40-15 and 24-4 at The Peake.

The Thunder returns to the floor on Sunday when it hosts the Chicago Bulls (32-23) at 8:30 p.m. in a nationally televised contest.

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