“They’re a great team,” Pekovic said of the Thunder. “I’m sure they’ll be one of the teams that is going to go for the title.”
With Minnesota leading 84-81 early in the fourth, Pekovic bulled to the basket for two layups, and Cunningham, who was playing with a bruised shooting hand, hit a jumper and converted a tough layup in traffic for a 92-81 lead.
The Thunder got as close as five points down the stretch, but Pekovic held them off with a putback that pushed the lead back to 96-87 with 1:34 to go. Westbrook was just 7 for 17 from the floor, Kevin Martin was 1 for 9 and Durant was relatively quiet after a 9-for-10 start.
“We keep it the same,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We’re a very even-keel team, we always focus on just playing good basketball whoever we play, and they play well against us. They’re a good team.”
Oklahoma City has nine games remaining to make up for it. Getting that No. 1 seed is very much a goal for these Thunder, who want to play as many games as possible in front of their raucous home fans in the playoffs. It was in Oklahoma City last year when the series against the Spurs turned so dramatically. Down 2-0 to San Antonio and in serious danger of being swept by the veteran Spurs, the Thunder exploded for a 20-point win in Game 3 at home. That gave them the confidence and momentum, and they reeled off three more in a row to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since moving from Seattle.