Barea's Fourth Quarter Heroics End Thunder's Winning Streak

Thursday, December 20th 2012, 10:36 pm
By: News 9

JJ Barea proved while he was on the Dallas Mavericks that he could be a major thorn in Oklahoma City's side. Thursday night, he showed the only thing that had changed was the team he played for.

Barea hit three three-pointers in the fourth quarter and scored 18 points off the bench to propel the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 99-93 win over the Thunder.

The loss snapped the Thunder's 12-game winning streak, with a much-anticipated Christmas Day matchup with the Heat in Miami next up for Oklahoma City.

The Thunder shot just 40.2 percent in a game it never led. OKC was also without Kevin Martin, who missed the game with a right thigh contusion. As a result, the Thunder bench was nonexistent, scoring just seven points for the game.

Barea had 14 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter alone, including 12 in a row for Minnesota during a run that turned an 80-77 lead into a 92-81 lead with 5:26 remaining in the contest. However his biggest play may have come on the defensive end.

With 2:38, OKC had the ball down nine, trying to cut into the Minnesota lead. Kevin Durant tried to drive past Barea, but the feisty guard stepped in front of Durant to draw a questionable charge on the three-time scoring champ. Durant didn't agree with the call and was assessed a technical foul as well.

That series of plays killed the Thunder's momentum, and while OKC cut the lead to four with 12 seconds left, Minnesota was able to put the game away without much of a problem.

Durant, who spent a good part of the night begging officials for any sort of call, led the Thunder with 33 points. Russell Westbrook had a wild night, scoring 30 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, including a game-high four offensive boards, and just missed out on a triple-double with nine assists. However, Westbrook almost had an infamous quadruple-double, finishing the game with eight turnovers.

For Minnesota, three players finished with double-doubles, with Kevin Love leading the Timberwolves in scoring with 28 points and 11 rebounds. Nikola Pekovic finished with 24 points, 18 in the first half, and 10 rebounds, while Alexey Shved had 12 points and 12 assists.

Minnesota dominated the first half, leading by 12 after the first quarter, and 53-44 at halftime. The Thunder was very slow in defensive rotations, allowing Minnesota plenty of easy buckets, especially for Pekovic.

Down seven points at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Thunder cut the deficit to one, when a Reggie Jackson floater made the score 76-75 with 10:03 remaining. It was as close as the Thunder got the rest of the way.