The Oklahoma City Thunder was looking for redemption Wednesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves—not only for Monday night's embarrassing loss to the Wizards, but also for its Dec. 20 99-93 loss to Minnesota.
The Thunder got the job done, riding a strong second half performance to crush the Timberwolves, 106-84.
Kevin Durant led all scorers with 26 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots. Russell Westbrook chipped in with 23 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Kevin Martin scored 19 points, but hit just 4-of-12 shots, including 0-for-5 from inside the three-point arc.
Alexey Shved led the Timberwolves with 18 points, while Nikola Pekovic had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
The OKC defense was very active in the second half, ending the game with 13 steals and forcing 19 turnovers and turning those into 26 points.
The Thunder also did a great job of getting out in transition, outscoring Minnesota 23-8 in fast break points.
It was a sluggish start for both teams, with the Thunder failing to shoot 30 percent in the first quarter. Minnesota slowed the pace of the game to a crawl, leading to a 16-16 tie after 12 minutes. Both Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison picked up two early fouls trying to Pekovic in check.
Perkins and Pekovic were each assessed technical fouls early in the first quarter after a brief altercation.
The Thunder was able to assert itself more in the second quarter, turning a 20-16 deficit into a 36-24 lead. OKC got a shot of energy from the bench by running a lineup of Durant, Martin, Hasheem Thabeet, Reggie Jackson and DeAndre Liggins for the first five minutes of the quarter.
Minnesota, playing without Kevin Love and JJ Barea, who torched the Thunder in the teams' Dec. 20 meeting, cut into the OKC lead, with Shved scoring 10 points in two minutes to make the score 40-36.
The Timberwolves eventually tied the score at 42 on two Andrei Kirilenko free throws before Westbrook closed the half with a layup and three-pointer to give the Thunder a five-point lead at halftime.
OKC shot just 39.5 percent in the first half, while Minnesota only managed to shoot 41 percent.
The Thunder quickly extended the lead to double-digits in the third quarter and maintained that lead throughout the entire period. OKC put the game away over the first half of the fourth quarter with a 20-8 run that extended the lead to 96-72.