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Timberwolves end Thunder's streak

MINNEAPOLIS — The smallest player on the court delivered the Timberwolves' biggest win this season Thursday, 99-93 over Oklahoma City, which hadn't lost since the day after Thanksgiving.

The Wolves ended the Thunder's 12-game winning streak by leading from opening tip until final buzzer, and every time you expected the visitors to assert themselves in the fourth quarter, Wolves point guard J.J. Barea was there, standing tall.

All 5 feet 9 of him.

Barea scored 14 of his 18 off the bench in a fourth quarter when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook tried to will the Thunder to victory. Barea denied the Thunder by scoring 12 consecutive Wolves points in the fourth after the Thunder had knocked a 14-point first-quarter deficit down to a point with less than 10 minutes to play.

Barea made three 3-pointers in a three-minute stretch in which the Wolves turned a 76-75 lead into an 88-77 bulge with seven minutes left. "It was awesome," he said. "I think I was the energy we needed in the fourth quarter."

The Thunder never got closer than four points again.

Kevin Love had 28 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, and Nikola Pekovic had 24 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota.

Durant had 33 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and Westbrook had 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists for the Thunder, which had not lost since Nov. 23 at Boston and has the best record in the league, 21-5.

"It's not the end of the world," Durant said of the loss. "A lot of people said the world is going to end today, tomorrow, but it's not the end of the world. We lost to a good team. … We've just got to go back and work."

Game highlights: LeBron James had 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists, and the Heat beat the host Mavericks 110-95. James has scored at least 20 in all 23 games, the longest streak to start a season since Karl Malone's 24 in a row opening the 1989-90 season.

Around the league: Lakers guard Steve Nash went through his first full-contact practice without setbacks to his broken left leg and said "it's more likely" he'll return Christmas Day against the Knicks than Saturday against Golden State. … Mavs point guard Derek Fisher will miss at least three games because of a strained right knee. … The Timberwolves waived forward Josh Howard after he tore the ACL in his right knee Friday at New Orleans. … The league's All-Star weekend Saturday night is adding a team component, with the Eastern and Western conferences competing for $500,000 for charity. The conferences will earn points based on the results of the night's four events: Shooting Stars, Skills Challenge, 3-point contest and dunk contest.

Timberwolves 99, Thunder 93

OKLAHOMA CITY (93): Durant 12-21 8-8 33, Ibaka 6-13 1-2 14, Perkins 0-2 0-0 0, Westbrook 9-28 11-13 30, Sefolosha 3-9 2-3 9, Collison 0-1 0-0 0, Jackson 2-6 0-0 4, Thabeet 0-0 0-0 0, Maynor 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 33-82 22-26 93.

MINNESOTA (99): Kirilenko 3-10 3-4 9, Love 9-20 6-8 28, Pekovic 10-18 4-4 24, Ridnour 1-4 2-2 4, Shved 5-10 0-0 12, Rubio 0-3 0-0 0, Cunningham 0-3 0-0 0, Barea 7-13 1-3 18, Williams 1-2 0-2 2, Stiemsma 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 37-84 16-23 99.

Oklahoma City 18 26 25 24— 93

Minnesota 30 23 23 23— 99

3-Point GoalsOklahoma City 5-20 (Ibaka 1-1, Maynor 1-2, Durant 1-4, Sefolosha 1-5, Westbrook 1-6, Jackson 0-2), Minnesota 9-20 (Love 4-9, Barea 3-4, Shved 2-4, Kirilenko 0-1, Rubio 0-1, Ridnour 0-1). Fouled OutKirilenko. ReboundsOklahoma City 51 (Westbrook 11), Minnesota 56 (Love 11). AssistsOklahoma City 17 (Westbrook 9), Minnesota 27 (Shved 12). Total FoulsOklahoma City 24, Minnesota 19. TechnicalsDurant.

Heat 110, Mavericks 95

MIAMI (110): L.James 9-13 3-4 24, Haslem 1-3 3-4 5, Bosh 8-14 1-1 17, Chalmers 1-2 2-2 4, Wade 7-13 4-4 19, Battier 4-9 2-2 13, Anthony 1-3 0-0 2, Allen 4-7 1-1 10, Cole 3-6 0-0 6, Miller 2-4 0-0 6, Lewis 1-1 0-0 2, Pittman 1-2 0-0 2, J.Jones 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 42-78 16-18 110.

DALLAS (95): Da.Jones 3-6 5-5 12, Marion 5-14 0-0 10, Kaman 4-10 0-0 8, Collison 4-8 3-4 11, Mayo 3-14 2-2 8, Carter 4-9 2-2 10, Do.Jones 2-9 3-4 7, B.James 6-10 0-0 12, Crowder 5-13 3-4 15, Beaubois 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 37-96 18-21 95.

Miami 31 27 33 19— 110

Dallas 20 22 19 34— 95

3-Point GoalsMiami 10-28 (L.James 3-5, Battier 3-7, Miller 2-4, Wade 1-3, Allen 1-4, Bosh 0-1, Chalmers 0-1, J.Jones 0-1, Cole 0-2), Dallas 3-22 (Crowder 2-8, Da.Jones 1-2, Collison 0-1, Beaubois 0-2, Carter 0-4, Mayo 0-5). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsMiami 56 (L.James 9), Dallas 44 (Marion, B.James 9). AssistsMiami 25 (Wade 6), Dallas 23 (Do.Jones 7). Total FoulsMiami 14, Dallas 17.

Timberwolves end Thunder's streak 12/20/12 [Last modified: Friday, December 21, 2012 12:30am]
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