OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma City Thunder ended a three-game losing streak -- nearly monumental by its standards -- by beating the Timberwolves, 127-111, on Friday night at Chesapeake Arena.
Until then, there almost was reason to panic about a team that had lost road games at Utah and Houston and been beaten by mighty Miami at home.
"It's tough to be the Thunder right now, huh?" Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks asked.
It was until Friday night for a team that's now 40-15. The Timberwolves lost for the 17th time in 21 games, even though they had won two of three games before Friday.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook got the Thunder back to its winning ways by combining to score 64 points. The Wolves surrendered 100 points before third quarter's end and trailed by as many as 18 points after halftime.
Wolves starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko said before the game that his intent was not to keep Durant from his league-leading 29 point average so much as it was to make him labor for all he got.
Durant instead produced an efficient 9-for-17 shooting night that also included seven rebounds and seven assists. Westbrook, meanwhile, got out and ran for most of his 37 points.
Westbrook also had nine assists and seven rebounds.
Six Wolves players reached double figures in scoring, led by Kirilenko's 15 and J.J. Barea's 14 off the bench before he fouled out in the game's final minutes.
Brooks' gripe with his team during its three-game losing streak was not offense, but rather a defense that allowed 122, 110 and 109 points.
"We haven't played well," he said. "We haven't played the defense we're capable of playing. The guys know that. Hopefully, we'll play much better on that side."
It doesn't much matter when you score at will and reached 100 points before the fourth quarter.
Whatever the Thunder's problems were before, they all faded away Friday night.
Not that Wolves coach Rick Adelman had much empathy for Brooks and the Thunder's troubles, anyway.
He noted that the three-game losing streak was broken up by the All-Star break, two losses before and one after.
"I don't think that counts," he said.
And even if it did ...
"What's their record, 39-15?" Adelman asked before the game. "I have no sympathy at all."
The Thunder led 18-11 midway through the first quarter, 49-36 in the second and 100-83 after three quarters. The Wolves never pulled closer than eight points after halftime.
The Wolves trailed 107-96 with seven minutes left before the Thunder pushed its lead back to 16 points in the game's final, ticking minutes.
By winning, the Thunder avoided its first four-game losing streak since the franchise's first season in Oklahoma City, when it started the 2008-09 season with a 3-29 record before abruptly changing course.
"I thought that could have been the case," Brooks said when told that fun fact.
Then somebody said that doesn't include, of course, the four consecutive games the Thunder lost in its five-game loss in last summer's NBA Finals.
"Thanks," Brooks said, pretending to pull an arrow from his back. "Appreciate that."
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