NBA

Thunder look for 13th straight win; Heat hit the road on TSN2

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The Sports Network
12/20/2012 11:33:43 AM
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(Sports Network) - The dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are up to their old scoring tricks for the red-hot Oklahoma City Thunder and will try to lead the team to a 13th straight win over the Minnesota Timberwolves this evening.

Catch all the action live on TSN2 beginning at 7pm et/4pm pt.

Durant and Westbrook scored 41 and 27 points, respectively, in Wednesday's 100-92 road win against the Atlanta Hawks. Durant added 13 rebounds and three assists to his total, while Westbrook dished out 11 assists for Oklahoma City, winners of 12 in a row and 20 of its last 22 games.

"I think the best part about it was that my teammates wanted me to shoot, to take the tougher shots," said Durant, who is a three-time scoring champion and currently third in the NBA with 27.7 ppg. "That always gives me confidence. I just try to go out there and come through for us."

Serge Ibaka finished with four points and a game-high 14 rebounds to help extend the longest winning streak in franchise history since a 14-game run back in the 1995-96 season, when the team was known as the Seattle SuperSonics.

The scoring tandem of Durant and Westbrook has carried the Thunder to an NBA- best 21-4 record. The Thunder are 11-1 this season when both superstars score more than 20 points and lead the league with 105.6 ppg. Durant, who made 14 of his 23 attempts Wednesday night, and Westbrook combined to score a total of 51.6 points per game last season.

Westbrook is sixth in the NBA with 21.1 ppg.

The Northwest Division-leading Thunder have an 18-1 record when reaching the century mark in scoring and are 10-0 when shooting 50 percent from the floor this season. OKC, which last tasted defeat Nov. 23 at Boston, made just 42.9 percent of its shots in the win over the Hawks.

Oklahoma City has won four in a row on the road and is 7-2 as the visitor. It will close out a three-game trek at Miami on Christmas.

Meanwhile, the Timberwolves have lost back-to-back games since a four-game winning streak and are back in the Twin Cities following a brief sojourn.

In Tuesday's 103-92 loss at the Heat, Andrei Kirilenko had 22 points and Nikola Pekovic registered 18 points and 12 rebounds for Minnesota, which lost despite having a 52-24 edge on the boards and a 58-36 advantage in the paint.

The rebound margin was the largest for any team in a loss since Jan. 6, 1994, when Golden State was outrebounded by 35 and beat San Antonio, 102-98.

"We kept battling those guys at the end," said Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman. "We came in and cut it down to eight. That's what you want to see."

Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio, who made his return from a torn ACL on Saturday, was held out of the contest with the team having played on consecutive nights. He is questionable versus the Thunder.

All-Star forward Kevin Love had 11 points and 18 rebounds in the loss to Miami and is listed as probable tonight with a right arm/shoulder issue. Love leads the Wolves with 19.0 points per game.

Minnesota, which is averaging 53.2 ppg in the first half over the past 11 contests, hopes to extend its four-game home winning streak Wednesday night and is 7-3 at the Target Center this season.

The T'Wolves lost all three meetings with Oklahoma City a season ago and have dropped 12 in a row and 20 of the past 24 matchups in the series. The Thunder have won seven straight and 10 of 11 trips to the Twin Cities.

Heat Back on the Road to Face Mavericks

(Sports Network) - The defending champion Miami Heat hit the road for only the second time since Nov. 21 tonight when they visit the Dallas Mavericks.

Wacth the game live on TSN2 at 9:30pm et/6:30pm pt.

This is a rematch of the 2011 NBA Finals, won by the Mavericks, but the two teams have gone in opposite directions since Dallas won its first championship in franchise history.

The Heat, who bested the Mavs in the 2006 NBA Finals, won the title last season to finally realize the shared goal of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

The Mavericks were swept in the first round last season by the eventual Western Conference Champions, the Oklahoma City Thunder. In fact, only two Mavericks remain from the squad that won the title two seasons ago, Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion.

Nowitzki is still out recovering from knee surgery, although should be back shortly after Christmas, but Marion, who became the 95th player in NBA history to score 16,000 points on Tuesday, will be in the lineup and probably tasked with trying to stop James.

On Tuesday, in a 103-92 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, James went off for 22 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and four blocked shots. Wade led the way with 24 points and Bosh added 15.

The Heat held the Wolves to 23.5 percent shooting from the 3-point line and Miami blocked 14 shots. But, in a somewhat alarming statistic, the Heat were outrebounded by 29.

"Rebounding helps, but there are a lot of other factors for rebounding," head coach Erik Spoelstra said. "If you go through the statistics in the playoffs and ranked them, that isn't necessarily the biggest key."

The Heat rank 29th in rebounding.

The Mavs aren't a great rebounding team either. In fact, their rebounding differential of minus-4.4 a night puts them dead last in the NBA.

Dallas snapped a three-game losing streak on Tuesday with a 107-100 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. O.J. Mayo paced the Mavericks with 26 points and eight assists and Chris Kaman chipped in 20 points and seven boards.

Point guard Derek Fisher will be out of Thursday's night contest. He fell awkwardly in the first quarter against the Sixers and didn't return. Results of his MRI aren't in yet.

The Mavs already were without Elton Brand (groin), but ended their losing streak thanks to a great fourth-quarter effort from Mayo and Kaman.

"It was really important," Mayo said of the victory. "Obviously we didn't have a great road trip, so for us to come back here at home, you know, we've got to protect our home court and get a win."

Brandon Wright is listed as day-to-day with a sprained right ankle.

The Heat swept last season's two regular-season games. That snapped a 14-game, regular-season winning streak the Mavs had over Miami.

Dallas, which is 6-0 at home against Eastern Conference foes, is 8-3 overall at American Airlines Center. The Heat are only 4-4 on the road and have dropped 10 of the last 12 in Big D.

Kevin Durant (Photo: Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images)
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