Towns has 33 and 19 as Wolves hold off Thunder 119-116
By Tyler Mason
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Karl-Anthony Towns had 33 points and 19 rebounds as the Minnesota Timberwolves held off the Oklahoma City Thunder 119-116 on Friday night.
Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler, back after missing two games with an upper respiratory infection, came up big down the stretch. He scored nine points in the final 4:09 to help the Wolves close it out. Butler finished with 25 points and was 11 of 13 at the free throw line.
Russell Westbrook led the way for Oklahoma City with 27 points. He had nine assists and eight rebounds, falling just shy of a triple-double. Carmelo Anthony added 23 points for the Thunder.
It was the second time in a week the Timberwolves edged the Thunder in a close game. Minnesota won Sunday in Oklahoma City on a buzzer-beater by Andrew Wiggins.
This time, Anthony’s 3-point attempt to tie it at the end of regulation was no good.
Minnesota point guard Jeff Teague had 16 points and 10 assists for his first double-double of the season. Teague hit a free throw with 12.4 seconds to play, giving the Wolves a three-point lead.
Towns finished with a season-high four blocks.
Minnesota overcame an 11-point deficit to enter halftime with the game tied at 59. A three-point play by Towns put the Wolves up two with just under a minute to play in the half.
There were 31 lead changes in all, and the game was tied 15 times.
Anthony couldn’t miss from the floor in the second quarter, scoring the Thunder’s first nine points of the period on several long jumpers.
The Timberwolves used an 8-0 run in the third to go ahead 83-78. Towns and Taj Gibson each had four points during that stretch, which was capped by Gibson’s dunk in transition.
Thunder: Steven Adams scored the Thunder’s first eight points after halftime, including a pair of free throws and an alley-oop dunk. . Oklahoma City entered with the worst free throw percentage in the NBA (67.5 percent), but was 22 of 25 from the line against Minnesota.
Timberwolves: Wiggins shot 5 of 15 from the floor. . C Gorgui Dieng hit a long 2-point shot that beat the buzzer to end the third quarter. That gave Minnesota a 90-89 lead to start the fourth.
Thunder: At Chicago on Saturday night.
Timberwolves: At Miami on Monday night.