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February 23, 2013

Westbrook leads Thunder past Timberwolves

OKLAHOMA CITY — It has been four years since Oklahoma City had lost four regular season games in a row. The franchise had just moved from Seattle and Kevin Durant was in his second year in the league.

The Thunder were on the verge of matching the streak entering Friday when it hosted a struggling Minnesota squad. However, behind 37 points from Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City got back to its winning ways and pulled out a 127-111 victory at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

“It was good to get a win,” Durant said. “We had a tough little stretch there. It happens. I’m glad we were able to get out of that little funk we were in and get a W. We still can be a lot better.”

Even though Oklahoma City came away with the victory, its defense was once again suspect as it allowed a team to score more than 109 points for the fourth straight game. On the season, the Thunder have allowed an average of 97 points per outing.

But Thunder coach Scott Brooks seems to believe the team is just going through a defensive slump.

“There is no question that what we have is not broken,” Brooks said. “It’s just not working at the moment. You need all five guys playing. We have to figure out how to get back to doing that. It always comes down to desire, effort and determination.”

Despite still playing without Kevin Love, the Timberwolves (20-32) were able to keep the game close at times. That included getting within 11 in the fourth quarter behind Andrei Kirilenko and J.J. Barea.

But the T-Wolves had no answer for Westbrook. With Ricky Rubio guarding him, the All-Star guard drove to the rim at will and found ways to make contested layups. Oklahoma City (40-15) pushed its advantage back to 15 and didn’t look back.

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