December 12, 2014

The Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook form the kind of superstar combination that the Minnesota Timberwolves believe they are in the process of developing.

For now, these young Wolves have yet to prove they can beat Durant and Westbrook.

The Thunder have won nine straight over the Timberwolves as well as 23 of the last 26 meetings heading into Wednesday night's matchup at the Target Center.

Oklahoma City (34-13) can post a 3-1 road trip after Tuesday's thrilling 128-122 overtime win at New York. Durant scored a season-high 44 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, while Westbrook finished with 30 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds in the Thunder's eighth win in nine games.

Durant hit the tying jumper with 16.2 seconds left in regulation off an assist by Westbrook before they combined for 11 points in overtime. Oklahoma City was down by four with under a minute left in the fourth quarter.

''We've been here before,'' Westbrook said. ''We have a lot of older guys that know what to do and we did a good job of playing the right way.''

The poise and clutch play by Durant and Westbrook is something Minnesota (14-32) knows all about. Durant totaled 51 points in two January wins over the Timberwolves and Westbrook nearly had a pair of triple-doubles.

The trio that features second-year stars Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and rookie Karl-Anthony Towns has yet to beat Oklahoma City. That unit has been compared to how the Thunder became formidable - led by the trio of Durant, Westbrook and James Harden, who is now with Houston.

That comparison came up again after Minnesota fell 114-107 at Cleveland on Monday. Towns scored 26, LaVine had 21 and Wiggins 20 as the Timberwolves became the first team with three players younger than 21 to each score at least 20 in a game.

"They've still got two great people on the team, Westbrook and Durant, arguably the best players in the NBA right now," Wiggins said. "So it's never bad to be compared to them, especially at a young age."

Towns is averaging 21.8 points and 12.5 rebounds in a four-game stretch with three of his 22 double-doubles that lead all rookies. He has totaled just 23 points on 37.0 percent in the two games against the Thunder, although he has 22 rebounds.

Wiggins is averaging 23.5 points in those games and LaVine 17.0 for Minnesota, which has lost 12 of 14 overall.

The Thunder's Dion Waiters started Tuesday for the injured Andre Roberson, who is out at least three weeks with a right knee sprain suffered in Sunday's 116-106 defeat to Brooklyn. Coach Billy Donovan didn't commit to Waiters remaining the starter during Roberson's absence, saying the former No. 4 overall pick had developed good chemistry with the second unit.

Minnesota can post its first three-game home win streak in three seasons. The Wolves expect to be without veterans Kevin Garnett (knee) and Kevin Martin (wrist), and are 0-8 without Garnett.

The Thunder are 9-1 against Northwest Division foes, and the Wolves are 2-7.

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