(Sports Network) – The Thunder welcomed Kevin Durant back from a two-game absence, but it was Jeff Green’s return that proved just as vital for Oklahoma City in its 117-107 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Durant logged 28 points, eight rebounds and five assists and Green, who missed seven of the previous eight games with an ankle injury, netted 24 points, including a go-ahead three-pointer with 54.7 seconds left in regulation.
Russell Westbrook chipped in 20 points and 14 assists, while Thabo Sefolosha also recorded a double-double with 13 points and 11 boards in the Thunder’s fifth straight win.
“We pulled it out as our guys made the plays at the end,” said Oklahoma City head coach Scott Brooks. “We picked up the intensity on defense in the fourth quarter, scrambling, playing tough, physical defense.”
Kevin Love provided 24 points and 17 boards for the Timberwolves, who received 21 points from Darco Milicic, 17 from Luke Ridnour and 15 from Michael Beasley in their fourth loss in five games.
“Our guys lost a little confidence at that point but we’re growing and getting better,” said Minnesota head coach Kurt Rambis. “Everyone has to realize we’re not healthy yet so we’re still not a complete team.”
Minnesota trailed throughout the second half until embarking on a 10-point run early in the fourth. Love showed his arsenal with a three-pointer to start the run and a bucket inside to end it, giving the visitors a 96-93 edge with eight minutes remaining.
The visitors held the lead until Sefolosha drained a jumper for a 104-103 Thunder advantage with 3:13 to play.
Following two unsuccessful trips from both teams, Love pulled down an offensive rebound and got a tough putback to fall with 1:20 on the clock.
Durant missed a mid-range jumper at the other end, but the loose rebound found Sefolosha, who swung to an open Green at the top of the key for a critical trifecta and a 107-105 lead.
Beasley’s wild drive in the lane resulted in a missed shot and his fifth foul, and the best free-throw shooting team in the league went 10-for-10 at the foul line in the final moments to seal the win.
Oklahoma City watched a 10-point first-quarter lead evaporate to a meager 28-27 edge after 12 minutes.
Minnesota was on top 44-39 following a Love three-ball with 7 1/2 minutes to go in the second, but Oklahoma City scored the next 11 points to jump back in front, 50-44, on Westbrook’s layup at the five-minute mark.
The hosts led, 65-54, at the break and stayed in front throughout the third, which ended in a 90-81 contest.
Durant missed the previous two games with an ankle injury…Oklahoma City, which entered the game shooting 87.1 percent from the stripe, went 32-of-40 there, compared to Minnesota’s 11-of-16 effort…Serge Ibaka and Nenad Krstic each netted 10 points for the Thunder, who have won six straight in the series…Corey Brewer scored 12 points for the Timberwolves.