(Sports Network) - The Oklahoma City Thunder will try to push their winningstreak to four on Friday night when they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves atthe Target Center.
Oklahoma City is fighting for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference andtrails the San Antonio Spurs by 1 1/2 games. The Thunder are 4 1/2 games up onthe Denver Nuggets in the Northwest Division.
The Thunder won their third straight on Wednesday night when they buried theWashington Wizards, 103-80. Defense was the order of the day for OKC as itdidn't allow Washington to score more than 23 points in a quarter, including14 in the final frame.
Oklahoma City had to deal with a red-hot John Wall, but held him to 18 pointson 3-for-18 shooting from the field. Wall had a career-high 47 points in hisprevious game. The Wizards only shot 32 percent as a team.
"We wanted to make sure that he did not get in to the paint and get any easyshots early," head coach Scott Brooks said of Wall. "That's the great luxuryto have when we have multiple guys that can guard multiple positions andthat's one of the things that Thabo (Sefolosha) does well. He can guard any oftheir perimeter players."
Russell Westbrook had 21 points, Kevin Durant 20 and Kevin Martin added 18 offthe bench.
The Timberwolves have alternated wins and losses over the last four and themost recent setback, a 120-117 loss on Wednesday, at home, to the Los AngelesLakers was a bitter one.
The Lakers were up big, but the Wolves started fouling Dwight Howard to getthe big man to the line. The strategy worked as Howard went 2-for-8 late andMinny cut the deficit to three.
Ricky Rubio took the last shot, but Kobe Bryant came over and blocked it,although the Timberwolves side believed a foul could've just as easily beencalled.
"What do you think? I mean come on," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said of the no-call. "First of all the guy should of never gone and tried to block the shotand he did. What are you going to say?"
Eight Minnesota players scored in double figures Wednesday, led by 19 pointsand 16 rebounds from Nikola Pekovic. Dante Cunningham had 18 off the bench andRubio, Andrei Kirilenko, Derrick Williams, Luke Ridnour, Chase Budinger andJ.J. Barea each cracked the 10-point mark.
The Timberwolves host the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday, then the BostonCeltics on Monday.
OKC has taken 14 of its last 15 against the Timberwolves. The only blemish wasearlier this season when the Wolves knocked off the Thunder 99-93 inMinnesota.