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Preview: Timberwolves (40-42) at Thunder (59-23)
BT Movements  ·  Line Movements
Date: February 22, 2013 8:00 PM EDT
  

The Oklahoma City Thunder have not lost four straight regular-season games since the first season that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook joined forces.

The Thunder will try to avoid such a skid Friday night when they host a Minnesota Timberwolves team they have beaten in 13 of the last 14 meetings.

Oklahoma City (39-15) is enduring its longest slide of the season after falling 122-119 at Houston on Wednesday. The Thunder allowed former teammate James Harden to score 46 points and yielded 47.8 percent shooting.

"As a team, we gave up too many points, 66 points in the second half is not us, it's not what we pride ourselves on," coach Scott Brooks said. "We have to regroup and figure it out defensively."

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It's part of a worrying trend for the Thunder, who are allowing opponents to shoot 47.6 percent in this slide. They wasted Durant's triple-double against the Rockets as well as 28 points apiece from Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha. Westbrook also had 10 rebounds and eight assists, although he added seven turnovers.

"None of those guys are going to feel good about having a good offensive game when we lose," Brooks said.

Oklahoma City's last four-game losing streak in the regular season came in 2008-09, when Westbrook was a rookie and Durant was in his second season.

The Thunder have won 16 straight home games against Western Conference foes and their defense would be boosted by the return of starting center Kendrick Perkins, listed as day to day after sitting out Wednesday with a sprained right knee.

Having Perkins in the lineup would help to contain Nikola Pekovic, who is averaging 18.3 points and 11.0 rebounds in three career starts against the Thunder.

Minnesota (20-31) used a dominant performance by Pekovic to win 94-87 at home over Philadelphia on Wednesday. Pekovic had 27 points and matched a career high with 18 rebounds for his sixth double-double in his last seven games.

"I was just trying to do my job to help my team to win," Pekovic said. "Everybody needs to step up with the rebounds and everything, so I was really trying to do that tonight."

Pekovic had 24 points and 10 boards to help Minnesota end a 12-game losing streak to Oklahoma City with a 99-93 win Dec. 20. Durant and Westbrook combined for 49 points as the Thunder evened the season series with their sixth straight home victory over the Wolves, 106-84 on Jan. 9.

Oklahoma City has limited Minnesota to 43.6 percent shooting this season, but that kind of defense has been absent lately.

"Friday is a game where we're going to have to get better defensively," said Brooks, whose club is opening a three-game homestand.

Oklahoma City will see an improving Derrick Williams, who has totaled 41 points and 24 boards in his last two games. The second-year forward has 16 points and 12 rebounds against the Thunder.

The Thunder are second in the league with 26.9 free-throw attempts per game and Minnesota is fifth at 25.7.

The Wolves attempted a season-high 44 foul shots against the Sixers, including a career-high 15 by Pekovic.

AP NEWS
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