OKLAHOMA CITY – On a night when their coach said he wanted his young players to feel the sting of a 113-93 loss, it might help the Timberwolves and those who will still follow them after nine consecutive losses to remember this date:
Nov. 28, 2008.
That was the last time a Wolves team won a game in Oklahoma City. On that night after Thanksgiving, Mike Miller's buzzer-beating shot defeated a team — just relocated from Seattle and renamed the Thunder — that started a second-year player named Kevin Durant and brought a rookie named Russell Westbrook off the bench.
"I don't even remember my first two seasons in the league," Durant said Friday when asked about that night long ago. "My third year, that's my rookie year."
With good reason: The Thunder was 1-16 after that night's loss, on its way to a 3-29 season start before turning things around by reaching 50 victories the next season and the NBA Finals two years after that.
"This team was where we were at one time," Wolves interim head coach Sam Mitchell said. "People have to remember that."
That's not to say, however, that the Wolves have a four-time scoring champion like Durant has become or a unique and driven point guard like Westbrook has become.
On Friday, the Thunder beat the Wolves for a 12th consecutive time at Chesapeake Energy Arena and did so after Westbrook delivered a triple-double — 12 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists — and even though neither he nor Durant played in the fourth quarter of a game clearly determined by then.
Three nights after it held on to beat the Wolves by five points at Target Center, the Thunder led by 14 points after one quarter and by as many as 26 in the fourth quarter in a game in which the home team was decidedly bigger, stronger and better.
"They shoved us around tonight," Mitchell said after his team lost for the 13th time in 14 games and the 21st in 25 contests after it had started the season 8-8 overall and 6-2 on the road.
Mitchell kept consecutive No. 1 overall picks Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, as well as Zach LaVine and Shabazz Muhammad, on the floor for all or most of the fourth quarter for a purpose, just like his coaches did when Mitchell played long ago.
"I left some of them out even when the game was out of reach because I wanted them to understand how it feels when you get your butt kicked," Mitchell said. "That's part of the growing pains of learning in the NBA. You can't save them every night. Sometimes you leave them out there and let them play through it."
Original Wolves coach Bill Musselman often did that with an expansion team that still won 22 and 29 games during Mitchell's first two NBA seasons.
"There were nights he'd just leave us out there," Mitchell said, "and he said, 'I want you to see how that stings, I want you to stay up tonight, I want it to bother you.' Sometimes you have to do that."
The Wolves remain the only NBA team that hasn't won a game in 2016. They've won just once — defeating an injury-depleted Utah team at home — since they won at Brooklyn five days before Christmas.
"We lost nine straight," Towns said. "Every one stings."