Thunder tie franchise record, lose 14th straight

Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — As the losses keep mounting for the Oklahoma City Thunder, they certainly aren’t getting any easier to take.

Craig Smith scored a season-high 23 points, Mike Miller drilled the game-winning jumper from the left baseline with 0.1 seconds left, and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat Oklahoma City 105-103 Friday night to hand the Thunder a franchise record-tying 14th straight loss.

"It’s definitely frustrating when you lose at the buzzer. It doesn’t matter if you’re not on a win streak," reigning Rookie of the Year Kevin Durant said. "Any team would hate to lose like this."

Oklahoma City rallied from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter and had a brief moment to celebrate after Durant hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:05 to play, but it was the Timberwolves taking turns giving Miller leaping chest bumps at midcourt when the final buzzer sounded.


Miller received an inbounds pass from Ryan Gomes, took a single dribble and then connected on a 19-footer with no time left for the Thunder to retaliate. It was only the fourth win of the season for Minnesota, which has won three of five after an eight-game losing streak.

"We stayed in there and won the game," Miller said. "Hopefully we can carry this over."

Al Jefferson finished with 19 points and nine rebounds to narrowly miss his eighth double-double. Miller scored 18 points, reserve Sebastian Telfair contributed 12 and Gomes had 11.

Durant and Jeff Green led Oklahoma City with 22 points apiece. Chris Wilcox scored 15 of his season-high 21 points in the fourth quarter to spark the Thunder’s comeback, and Russell Westbrook had 15 points and eight assists.

It wasn’t enough to keep the Thunder from matching the franchise’s longest losing streak, set last season in Seattle.

The only team Oklahoma City had beaten in 16 games heading into Friday was Minnesota, 88-85 on Nov. 2, but even that could’ve been a bad omen. The Timberwolves were also the last team the SuperSonics beat last season before that 14-game skid. The NBA record for consecutive losses is 23, set by the Vancouver Grizzlies in 1996 and matched by the Denver Nuggets two seasons later.

Oklahoma City’s next chance to break through comes Saturday night at Memphis.

"All we can ask is for our guys to work hard every night and compete," said Scott Brooks, who is 0-4 since replacing the fired P.J. Carlesimo as the Thunder’s coach. "The wins will come."


After a string of blowouts in Carlesimo’s final days, Oklahoma City kept it close in Brooks’ debut at New Orleans and led all but the final 25.7 seconds of the second half in a 99-98 loss to Phoenix on Tuesday. After that came a 117-82 loss at Cleveland that was never even close.

"This is a game we had to win tonight. We had it," Durant said. "But the one thing we can’t do is like we did in Cleveland. After a tough loss, we dwelled on it too much. We came out and I think that kind of messed with us a little bit."

Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman replaced starter Jason Collins with Smith to start the second half, and he teamed up with Jefferson to take control inside during a 17-6 run to start the second half. Smith’s layup off a pass from Randy Foye put Minnesota up 61-54, and the Timberwolves matched their largest lead when Telfair and Corey Brewer nailed 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to push their edge to 79-70 at the end of the third quarter.

Wilcox rallied the Thunder back, scoring 10 of the team’s 12 points in one stretch, and tying the game at 92 on his two free throws with 4:22 to play.

Miller answered at the other end with a 3-pointer from the top of the key, and Smith’s three-point play put Minnesota back up by six. Green and Durant then hit back-to-back 3-pointers for a 100-99 Oklahoma City lead with 1:05 left, setting off the first celebration at halfcourt.

Jefferson tied it at 101 by hitting the first of two free throws with 10.4 seconds left, and Gomes hit two foul shots after grabbing the offensive rebound on Jefferson’s miss.

Durant tied it one last time by driving past Jefferson for a right-handed jam with 3.3 seconds left, but that left just enough time for Miller’s heroics.

"These are games that we’ve had throughout the course of the first month that we haven’t been able to close out," Wittman said. "I thought tonight we persevered."


Notes: Thunder F Desmond Mason returned after missing six games, wearing a protective sleeve on his injured right elbow, and scored five points. C Robert Swift missed his fifth straight game with lower back pain. ... The Timberwolves, who shot 47 percent, are 4-0 when shooting at least 45 percent and 0-10 when they don’t.

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