No question the Timberwolves have struggled this season, but they have been more competitive as of late with the maturation of their super-young core. On Friday, they traveled to Oklahoma City to face the Thunder and pulled off a 99-96 victory thanks to clutch shooting from Ricky Rubio.
The Thunder, who were fresh off a win over the Clippers, played Minnesota well but couldn’t seal the deal in the fourth.
Both teams shot very poorly in the first, especially OKC who shot just under 22% from the field. The Wolves led 24-21 after the quarter and were led by Andrew Wiggins’ nine points on 4/8 shooting. Ricky Rubio dished out three assists, and Durant and Westbrook combined for 12 points.
Oklahoma City got off the schneid in the second and saw ten points from Westbrook, five from Durant, and 32 collectively. Their shooting saw a dramatic increase and 63% was the final mark for the quarter. Ricky Rubio led Minnesota with eight points, and Wiggins was right behind him with seven. The Wolves shot 50% from the field, recorded 26 points in the quarter, and entered halftime down 53-50.
Solid defense was the theme in the third quarter as OKC scored 20, and Minnesota scored 19. Andrew Wiggins kept his hot streak going and bucketed seven points on 3/5 shooting while Rubio continued to find open teammates and dished out four dimes in the quarter. Durant and Westbrook combined for 16 of the Thunder’s 20 points.
The fourth quarter was tight the whole time, but the most exciting part came within the final two minutes. Gorgui Dieng hit two free throws to cut the lead to 92-90, then two more after a Durant dunk to cut the lead to 94-92. Following the last set of free throws, Karl-Anthony Towns hit two shots back-to-back to give Minnesota a 96-94 lead. Steven Adams tied the game with a put-back layup off a Durant miss, and the Timberwolves would have the final possession.
Andrew Wiggins drove from the right wing and then dished it out to Rubio, who was open on the left side. Rubio lined it up and connected on his third three of the game with 0.2 seconds left and sealed a 99-96 over a premier team in the Western Conference.
Rubio finished with 13 points, 12 assists, and eight rebounds while Gorgui Dieng led with 25.
The Timberwolves take on the Suns in Phoenix on Monday while the Thunder travel to San Antonio for the second half of a back-to-back on Saturday.
Around The League
Matt Barnes recorded his first career triple-double in a win over the Pelicans, 121-114. Barnes had 26 points, 11 rebounds, and ten assists while Lance Stephenson had 33 to lead Memphis. Jrue Holiday (34) had his second-straight game with 30+ to lead New Orleans.
Golden State rolled over Portland, 128-112, behind 71 points from the Splash Brothers. Steph Curry had his 19th game with seven-plus threes, 14 more than second-place Klay Thompson, who had his fifth game of the year with seven-plus threes.
Houston got back above .500 for the first time in over a month with a win over the Celtics, 102-98. James Harden led the way with 32 points while Michael Beasley had 18 points and eight rebounds. Jared Sullinger had 24 and 12 for the C’s, and Isaiah Thomas had 30 points.
DET 103 – CHA 118
BKN 89 – PHI 95
HOU 102 – BOS 98
MIA 118 – CHI 96
NOLA 114 – MEM 121
MINN 99 – OKC 96
WASH 93 – UTAH 114
ORL 107 – SAC 100
POR 112 – GSW 128
NYK 94 – LAC 101