NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, December 26th (All times eastern)
Oklahoma City Thunder (1-0) at Minnesota Timberwolves (0-0), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A day after beginning their season with an impressive win over Dwight Howard's Magic, Kevin Durant and the Thunder will invade Minneapolis hoping to spoil Ricky Rubio's NBA debut and beat the Timberwolves for a 10th straight time.
Durant, the NBA's scoring leader each of the last two seasons, posted 30 points on Christmas Day as Oklahoma City ran past Orlando, 97-89, in the season-opener for both teams. Durant also had six assists and five rebounds.
"Kevin probably had his best passing game," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "He was finding open shooters across the court. That's what we've been talking about, stressing all training camp. We saw some carry over tonight."
James Harden came off the bench for 19 points and Russell Westbrook tallied 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the victory.
The Thunder, coming off a Western Conference finals loss to the Mavericks, built a 14-point halftime lead and were in front by as many as 22 in the fourth quarter.
The Timberwolves, having amassed just 32 wins over the past two seasons under Kurt Rambis, made a change at the top by hiring the highly-regarded Rick Adelman.
Adelman, of course, led Portland to a pair of NBA Finals appearances (1990, '92) and has guided his clubs to the playoffs 16 times. That type of success likely won't be reached any time soon in Minnesota, but at least Adelman has a solid nucleus to work with.
Led by All-Star and rebounding machine Kevin Love, the Wolves are looking to vastly improve on what has been two lousy seasons. Love led the team in both points (20.2) and rebounds (15.2) last season and will have Spanish star Rubio dishing him passes in the upcoming campaign.
Rubio' much-anticipated debut arrives tonight after a lengthy wait for Minnesota. The passing wizard was selected by the Wolves with the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft and spent the past two seasons playing in Spain.
Minnesota also brought veteran guard J.J. Barea, who won a world championship in Dallas last season, to serve as a mentor for the 21-year-old Rubio.
"We are excited to add J.J. Barea to our team," said David Kahn, Timberwolves president of basketball operations. "His experience, leadership capabilities and all-around play should help us immensely this coming season and beyond."
The Wolves last beat the Thunder on Jan. 7, 2009 at Target Center, having lost nine in a row in this series.
12/26 10:47:11 ET