Jimmy Butler had 26 points, eight assists and seven rebounds as the Minnesota Timberwolves broke away in the second half to post a 104-88 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday in Minneapolis.
Andrew Wiggins scored 19 points as the Timberwolves won for the third consecutive time and 10th in their past 13 games. Karl-Anthony Towns added 18 points and 12 rebounds for his NBA-leading 35th double-double of the season.
Russell Westbrook recorded 38 points and 10 rebounds for the Thunder, who have lost three straight games and five of their past seven. Carmelo Anthony scored 15 points on 5-of-19 shooting and Paul George had 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting for Oklahoma City, which had 19 turnovers, one shy of its season high.
The Timberwolves, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2004, have an impressive 27-16 record and steamrolled the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-99 on Monday.
Butler scored 20 second-half points as Minnesota outscored Oklahoma City 57-41 over the final 24 minutes.
“We’re starting to play hard and starting to compete on the defensive end,” Butler said in a postgame interview with ESPN. “When we play like that, we’re really tough.”
Towns and Tyus Jones hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give Minnesota an 86-71 edge with 8:06 to play. Oklahoma City cut its deficit to nine on Westbrook’s three-point play with 4:09 left before Butler drained a 22-footer just before the shot clock expired and Taj Gibson scored in the interior to start a 7-0 run that pushed the margin to 99-83 with 2:47 left.
Butler knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 102-86 with 1:54 left to complete his strong second half.
The contest was tied at 47 at halftime before Minnesota used a 12-2 run early in the third quarter to open up a 61-53 lead on Butler’s basket with 6:58 to play. The advantage was 76-65 at the end of the stanza.
Westbrook had 19 points and nine rebounds in the first half. He scored 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the first quarter, which ended with the score knotted at 23.
—Field Level Media