Durant's 47 points lead the Thunder past Timberwolves in overtime
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The Minnesota Timberwolves gave the Oklahoma City Thunder all they could handle but like so many games this season they came up one play short in Wednesday's 118-117 loss in overtime.
Both team's superstar Kevin's -- Love and Durant -- carried them their team the entire way, putting up the type of numbers that will cause people to do a double-take when glancing at a box-score.
Durant tied his career-high with 47 points on 15-of-18 shooting that included 4-of-8 from behind the arc and 13-of-14 from the free-free throw line.
36 of Durant's 47 points came in the second-half and overtime, including the eventual game winner.
"It's impossible to stop him," Anthony Tolliver said. "He's definitely somebody that you've just got to make it as tough as on him. We threw some different looks at him tonight and he just had a really good night."
If the Wolves can take a silver-lining in the latest-greatest most frustrating loss of the season it's that Love may have officially booked his spot in the All-Star game.
Love finished with 31 points and 21 rebounds good for his 31st consecutive double-double of the season and his 40th of the season. Love is now within striking distance of Kevin Garnett's franchise record of 37 consecutive.
There have been three 30 point - 20 rebound games in the NBA this season. Love has all of them.
But for Love, the indidual statistics mean very little, it is all about getting the win. Love had a chance at the end of regulation with the score tied 110-110 for a game-winning shot that would have sent the Target Center crowd into a frenzy but his 8-foot hook-shot got halfway down before popping out.
"When it left my hand I said, 'that thing is in,' I was about to run back to the locker room right away but that thing went in-and-out," Love said.
Love got knocked to the floor late in overtime and was slow getting up. After the game he took a longer time than usual getting treatment. When a reporter asked if he needed a hug, Love said, "I need a hug because we lost. We've lost so many close ones this year, that's why I need a hug. I took a little bit of a nasty fall, but more than anything we've had so many tough ones this year it's been a tough pill to swallow."
Close basketball games tend to come down to the little things and Wednesday was no different.
The Thunder hit a remarkable 26-of-27 (96.3%) while the Wolves were just 18-of-25 (72%).
"That was the telling tale for me," Love said about the free-throw discrepancy.
"They've been a really good free throw shooting team all year. I believe they're over 80% for their team. That's one thing that we wanted to try to do, was keep them off the line."
But it wasn't just at the free-throw line where the Wolves shot themselves in the foot, their old foe turnovers once again reared it's ugly head. The Thunder converted the Wolves 22 turnovers into 20 points.
"We've been in that situation plenty of times and we always get unnecessary turnovers," Michael Beasley, who had 6 of the 22, said. "Turnovers turn into points. We just wanted to take care of the ball and search for the open shot."
Despite his six-turnovers, Beasley had his first big game since spraining his ankle Jan. 7 against Portland.
Beasley flirted with a triple-double, finsihing with 30 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists in 44 minutes.
"When Beasley is on we are at our best," Tolliver said. "When he is not, we can still play but it is a little more difficult. He is a special player, he is somebody that can get a shot off and get a bucket in the blink of an eye. When he is hitting shots he is a pretty tough team."
Rambis called into question Beasley's conditioning after the game and Beasley admitted the ankle troubles that plagued him for most of January have set him back a bit.
"I felt like me sitting those couple of games last week has probably set me back step or two, but I'm working. I'm not out of shape where I can't play 45 minutes, but I'm not where I started the season."
But individual conditioning and stats aside, the Wolves -- at 10-45 -- still cannot get enough stops down the stretch to find a way to win a close game.
"Another opportunity lost," Tolliver said. "I really feel that way. I really feel that we play all these good teams and we play them so well and then at the end of the game things just don't go our way. I feel like we have had so many games like this come down to the wire against really good teams and we just can't finish it out."