OKLAHOMA CITY -- Besides Russell Westbrook, the biggest advantage the Oklahoma City Thunder have is the front line. The combination of Steven Adams and Enes Kanter is a package most teams are unable to deal with.
However, the Thunder often fail to figure out how to use the two 7-footers together. That wasn't a problem Saturday when they took on the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Facing one of the best big men in the game, Adams and Kanter combined for 34 points and 18 rebounds as the Thunder defeated the Timberwolves 112-92 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Oklahoma City was especially glad to see the re-emergence of Kanter, who was used sparingly in the previous two road games in Los Angeles and Golden State.
"We know what he does," Adams said of Kanter. "We know he's obviously not going to perform every night. Russell (Westbrook) did the best job of maintaining his confidence. Giving confidence to help him come out and perform."
Westbrook led the Oklahoma City charge as he scored 28 points on 9 of 18 shooting. He also collected eight assists, six rebounds and three steals. Kanter came off the bench to pour in 20 points and grab 10 rebounds. Adams added 14 points and eight boards.
Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves (1-4) with 33 points on 13 of 20 shooting. Shabazz Muhammad came off the bench to post 15 points. No other starter reached double digits.
"We didn't play good," Andrew Wiggins said. "We had a good first half, bad second half. We needed to compete harder."
It was a battle of big men to start the evening. Towns and his ability to shoot jumpers and take defenders off the dribble was the main focus of the Minnesota offense early on. He scored 13 points in the first quarter on 6-for-9 shooting.
"I messed up on him," Adams said of his defense on Towns. "I was just trying to feel it out at first."
The Thunder (5-1) countered with the combination of Adams and Kanter. While Adams was able to score with close jumpers and offensive putbacks, Kanter used a variety of moves in the paint to rack up points.
Westbrook began to take control in the second quarter by continually attacking the basket. He was able to bully rookie Kris Dunn and fight his way into the paint for dunks or assists that led to dunks.
The Thunder took a 59-53 advantage into halftime.
"Our defense was poor from start to finish," Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau said. "But there is no excuse for not having floor balance and protecting the basket. So we have to get that straightened out."
Oklahoma City went on a 22-8 run to kick off the second half. While Westbrook provided the highlight plays, the Thunder got contributions from several sources. That included bench players Jerami Grant, Joffrey Lauvergne and Semaj Christon.
Towns was unable to find any help on the offensive end. Wiggins couldn't buy a basket with Andre Roberson guarding him. The rest of the Timberwolves missed open shots.
Heading into the fourth quarter, Towns had 33 of his team's 72 points. But his squad trailed by 18 and would get no closer.
The Timberwolves shot 39.3 percent from the field and 21.1 percent from behind the arc.
Oklahoma City hit 7 of 16 from 3-point range.
"The defense was aggressive," Westbrook said. "Did a good job of making them shoot tough shots. Just made it tough for those guys all night."
NOTES: Heading into Saturday's game with Minnesota, Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook's usage rate was 42.3. Comparably, former Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is the all-time leader at 38.74 during the 2005-06 season. Westbrook's 2014-15 season is second all-time at 38.37. "I look at it a little bit differently from the perspective of Russell's a unique player and that he can affect the game in so many different ways," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. "I want him to be aggressive." ... Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau said rookie Kris Dunn is still learning the NBA game. "It is a longer game and the game itself is a lot different," Thibodeau said. "I think the physicality and speed of the game is a lot different from college. He is going through an adjustment period with that. Kris is a really tough kid." ... The Oklahoma City-Minnesota game started at 5 p.m. CT instead of its normal 7 p.m. time. According to officials, it's was part of the NBA testing times that are appealing to its European markets. ... Enes Kanter took a not-so-veiled shot at former teammate Kevin Durant after Saturday's game. "(Russell Westbrook) is the leader of this team this year and last year," Kanter told media members.