Butler scores 26 to lead Timberwolves past Thunder 104-88
By Brian Hall
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Jimmy Butler scored 26 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had eight assists for the Minnesota Timberwolves in a 104-88 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.
Andrew Wiggins added 19 points, and Karl-Anthony Towns had 18 points and 12 rebounds as Minnesota pulled away in the second half to win its third game in a row at home and 10th in its last 13 overall.
Russell Westbrook had 38 points and 10 rebounds, but Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and the rest of the Thunder had a tough time shooting. Westbrook was 15 of 23 from the field, while his teammates were 17 of 56 (30.3 percent).
Anthony scored 15 points on 5-of-19 shooting, while George finished 5 of 14 for 13 points for Oklahoma City, which has lost five of seven.
The first three games between the teams were decided by a combined nine-point margin. Minnesota won the first two games by a total of five points. The Thunder came back with a four-point win at home on Dec. 1 as George scored 36 points.
George had just two points in the first half on Wednesday.
Oklahoma City missed seven of its first eight shots as the Wolves built a 10-point advantage. The Thunder recovered to tie it at 15 and it appeared to be another nail-biter between the teams. The score was tied at the end of the first quarter and first half.
Minnesota’s improving defense showed in the third and Oklahoma City missed more shots. The Thunder shot just 28.6 percent in the quarter (6 of 21). Meanwhile, the Wolves hit 62.5 percent (10 of 16) to take an 11-point lead.
After a pair of blowout wins at home against Cleveland and New Orleans, Minnesota started to pull away in the fourth, leading by as many as 16.
Thunder: G Andre Roberson missed his sixth straight game with left patellar tendinitis and coach Billy Donovan said he would also miss Saturday’s game. … Oklahoma City tied a season high with 20 turnovers. … In the first three meetings, Thunder C Steven Adams was 27 of 33 from the field for a combined 64 points. He scored eight on 2-of-5 shooting on Wednesday.
Timberwolves: Minnesota held its opponent under 100 points for the seventh straight game. The last time the Wolves have held teams under 100 in seven consecutive games was Jan. 5-Feb. 8, 2007. … Minnesota had its fifth consecutive sellout, the first time for the franchise since March 21-April 4, 2004.
Minnesota point guard Jeff Teague returned after missing seven games with a sprained MCL in his left knee. Teague played 26 minutes and scored eight points with four rebounds and three assists. Including a four-game absence for a sore right Achilles, Teague has missed 11 games this season. The Wolves are 6-5 without Teague and 20-11 with him in the lineup.
In his first season in Minnesota, Teague entered the night averaging 13.4 points and a team-high 7.3 assists per game.
Timberwolves: Host the New York Knicks on Friday.