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Thunder-Timberwolves Preview

Feb 21, 2010 - 5:12 AM By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN STATS Senior Writer

Oklahoma City (31-21) at Minnesota (13-43), 7:00 p.m. EDT

In only his third NBA season, Kevin Durant is moving closer to territory occupied by Michael Jordan.

Durant looks to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to their ninth straight win Sunday night when they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Behind its high-scoring forward, Oklahoma City (32-21) will try for the franchise's longest win streak since Nov. 5-19, 2004 when it was based in Seattle. Durant ranks second in the NBA in scoring with a career-high 29.8 points per game, trailing LeBron James' 29.9 for league-leading Cleveland.

Durant has scored at least 25 points in 27 consecutive games, the longest streak since Allen Iverson also did it in 27 straight from Jan. 12-March 9, 2001. The last longer streak was by Jordan, with 40 in a row during the 1986-87 season.

The All-Star forward drew more comparisons to Jordan Saturday when he hit the tying 3-pointer with 6 seconds left in regulation and made the go-ahead jumper with 16 seconds to play in overtime in a 121-118 victory at New York.

Durant scored 22 points after halftime as Oklahoma City rallied from a six-point deficit late in regulation, and finished with 36 on 10-of-25 shooting.

"Jordan is probably the best end-of-game finisher of all-time, but he's not 100 percent," coach Scott Brooks said. "And KD's no different, he's going to just continue to have to attack. He didn't have his stroke throughout the game, but he hit enough shots when we needed it down the stretch."

Russell Westbrook had 31 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds and Jeff Green added 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Thunder, who won for the first time in four overtime games.

"Everybody lives for nights like this," Westbrook said. "Basketball players live for overtime game, big shots, things like that."

The Thunder will be looking for their second win over Minnesota (13-43) this season and third straight at Target Center.

Durant had 31 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Thunder to a 94-92 victory over the Timberwolves on Jan. 20. Oklahoma City survived despite not scoring over the final 2:14 as Minnesota missed two chances to tie or take the lead in the closing seconds.

Minnesota owns the second-worst record in the league, and managed 36 second-half points in a 100-94 home loss to Chicago on Friday. Corey Brewer scored a team-high 19 points.

"You could just see that our guys were getting more and more frustrated," coach Kurt Rambis said.

The Timberwolves went 6 for 18 from the floor, and missed eight of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter.

"I'd never seen anything like that. I guess all our energy was gone," said forward Al Jefferson, held to 10 points and five rebounds.

Minnesota continues to be mistake-prone, averaging a league-worst 16.1 turnovers. The Timberwolves also have the fewest blocks in the NBA with 191.

"They haven't really blossomed as a team," Rambis said. "There's still guys trying to figure each other out. They're still trying to figure themselves out. So when you take a break, you've got nothing to go back to kind of hold on to."