Timberwolves end Thunder's 12-game winning streak
Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder have been blowing the doors off the rest of the Western Conference in these first two months...
MINNEAPOLIS — Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder have been blowing the doors off the rest of the Western Conference in these first two months, playing with the swagger born of their run to the NBA Finals last season.
J.J. Barea and the Minnesota Timberwolves tried to send a message Thursday night that a second straight trip isn't going to come easy.
Playing with the tenacity that made him so important to the Mavericks' run to the title two years ago, Barea scored 14 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter to help the Timberwolves snap Oklahoma City's 12-game winning streak with a 99-93 victory over the Thunder.
Kevin Love had 28 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists and Nikola Pekovic had 24 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota. But it was Barea who was the key, scoring 12 straight at one point for the Wolves to hold off the team with the best record in the league.
"It's important," coach Rick Adelman said of beating the best in the West. "But I would like to see us get to a point where this is not a big deal. It's a big game against the best team, but this is something we can do."
Kevin Durant had 33 points, seven rebounds and six assists and Russell Westbrook had 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists for the Thunder, who had not lost a game since Nov. 23 at Boston.
That it was Barea, and not the Olympian Love or the sensational Ricky Rubio, who was chiefly responsible was the biggest surprise of all.
Barea didn't join the Timberwolves until training camp had already started last season, then languished through the first injury plagued year of his career. Finally healthy, he's getting back to the super pest that helped the Dallas Mavericks to the title two years ago.
After Durant's two free throws cut Minnesota's lead to 80-77, Barea hit two threes and scored on a putback under the rim amid the tall trees, an 8-0 run by himself that gave the Wolves a little breathing room. His long three with 5:26 to play made it 92-81, and the Wolves held on.
"I love it," Barea said. "We just needed a little bit more tonight, a little energy and I'm glad I was able to provide that for us tonight."
Heat beats Mavericks
DALLAS — LeBron James scored 24 points with some early baskets on nifty passes from Dwyane Wade, and the Miami Heat rolled to a 110-95 victory over the injury plagued Dallas Mavericks.
James has scored at least 20 points in all 23 games, the longest streak to start an NBA season since Karl Malone's 24 in a row opening the 1989-90 season.
Dallas, still waiting for the season debut of 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki after right knee surgery, was also without starting point guard Derek Fisher (knee).
The Heat never trailed after James drove for a short floater three minutes into the game to make it 6-4. They had their first double-digit lead, 22-11 when James made a three-pointer with 4 ½ minutes left in the first quarter.
• The Timberwolves waived veteran forward Josh Howard after he suffered a torn ACL in his right knee.