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.
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 in Minneapolis.
Kevin Love had 28 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 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 and enabling the Wolves to hold off the Thunder.
‘‘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, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists and Russell Westbrook had 30 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists for the Thunder, who had not lost a game since Nov. 23 at Boston.
‘‘It’s not the end of the world,’’ Durant said. ‘‘We lost to a good team. They came out and played extremely hard and they beat us. We’re 21-5 and we've just got to go back and work.’’
Heat 110, Mavericks 95 — LeBron James scored 24 points with some early baskets on nifty passes from Dwyane Wade, and visiting Miami rolled over injury-plagued Dallas.
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 (right 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 3-pointer with 4½ minutes left in the first quarter.
Trail Blazers 101, Nuggets 93 — J.J. Hickson had 18 points and 18 rebounds for his sixth straight double-double, and host Portland topped Denver for its first four-game winning streak.
The Blazers won despite missing forward LaMarcus Aldridge because of a sprained left ankle.
The Nuggets were 0 for 22 from 3-point range, breaking the NBA record of 20 misses set by the Trail Blazers in a game against Toronto last week.