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 that a second straight trip isn't going to come easily.
Playing with the tenacity that made him so important to the Dallas Mavericks' run to the title two years ago, 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 visiting Thunder.
Kevin Love had 28 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists and Nikola Pekovic had 24 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota. But Barea was the key, scoring 12 straight at one point to hold off the team with the best record in the league.
"I love it," Barea said. "We just needed a little bit more tonight, a little energy, and I'm glad I was able to provide that for us tonight."
Kevin Durant had 33 points, seven rebounds and six assists and Russell Westbrook had 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists for the Thunder.
Heat 110, Mavericks 95: LeBron James scored 24 points with some early baskets on nifty passes from Dwyane Wade, and visiting Miami rolled to a victory over
James has scored at least 20 points in all 23 games, the longest streak to start an NBA season since Karl Malone's 24 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) and post players Elton Brand (right groin) and Brandan Wright (right ankle).
Trail Blazers 101, Nuggets 93: J.J. Hickson had 18 points and 18 rebounds for his sixth straight double-double, and host Portland beat Denver. The Nuggets were 0 for 22 from 3-point range, breaking the NBA record of 20 misses set by the Blazers last week.