OKLAHOMA CITY – The Timberwolves not only played on without All-Star Kevin Love as well as Nikola Pekovic on Wednesday, they went without their entire starting frontcourt. Small forward Corey Brewer stayed behind in Minnesota to be with his newborn son while his team flew south following Tuesday’s home victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Brewer’s absence left the Wolves one more body short to defend Thunder superstar Kevin Durant, who has been on a ridiculous scoring tear since these teams last played a month ago. But Durant scored just 26 points Wednesday in a 106-97 Thunder victory.
Brewer helped limit Durant to a season-low 13 points on 4-for-11 shooting when the teams first met, in the season’s second game. Then he helped hold Durant to a mere 48 points when the teams played again at Target Center on Jan. 4.
“He’s one of the best wing defenders, no question,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of Brewer. “It’s hard to say a guy has done a great job defensively when Kevin had 48 points at their place, but he makes KD work.”
Brewer is expected to join the team in time for Friday’s game in New Orleans. His son Sebastian was born Tuesday, just hours before the Lakers game.
Wolves coach Rick Adelman started Luc Mbah a Moute against Durant, who made 11 of 20 field-goal attempts. Durant averaged 35.9 points a game in January, when he scored 30 or more points in 12 consecutive games.
Tuckered out …
Wolves guard Kevin Martin didn’t play at all in Wednesday’s fourth quarter after he scored 32 points the night before. Fellow starters Mbah a Moute and Ronny Turiaf also didn’t play in the fourth quarter, when Adelman turned to such players as Robbie Hummel and Chase Budinger.
“I thought he was tired from last night,” Adelman said, referring to Martin and his eight-point night on 4-for-10 shooting. “I thought he didn’t have spring in his legs and so I just tried everybody.”
Gorgui Dieng played eight minutes Wednesday — and made a rookie mistake that resulted in a goaltending call on Derek Fisher’s missed three-pointer that ended the third quarter — after he left Tuesday’s game disoriented when he was elbowed in the face.
Teammates guided him to the locker room that night. His jaw remained sore Wednesday and he struggled to eat, but played anyway.
“I had soup,” he said.
Still missing Pek
Pekovic missed his fifth consecutive game Wednesday because of ankle bursitis, and there’s no indication yet when he will play again or if it will come back before next week’s All-Star break.
The last time these teams played, Pekovic scored 31 points last month at Target Center.
“Well, we should do a pretty good job on him tonight,” Brooks said jokingly before tipoff. “He’s really good. He’s right there with all the other potential All-Star players.”
• Wolves guard Alexey Shved returned to a regular part of the rotation Wednesday after he didn’t play Tuesday because Adelman used Brewer and Mbah a Moute against Nick Young defensively. “Just the way the game went,” Adelman said. “If one guy plays, somebody doesn’t. You can’t put two guys out there, leave one guy at one end and one at the other. I’d like that to happen, but I don’t think they’ll allow us to do that.”
• Ex-gymnastics stars Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci were part of a halftime tribute honoring Oklahoma Olympians.