June 14, 2024

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The Timberwolves defeated the Thunder in the game play to claim the eighth seed

The Timberwolves defeated the Thunder in the game play to claim the eighth seed

ESPN News Services4 minutes to read

KAT 28 drops as the Timberwolves lock up an 8 seed in the West

Karl-Anthony Towns holds the Timberwolves through the Thunder and moves toward the Nuggets with a dominant 28-point performance.

Minneapolis – Carl Anthony Towns scored 28 points and 11 rebounds to lead Minnesota to the playoffs as the Timberwolves edged past the Oklahoma City Thunder 120-95 to finish the tournament on Friday night.

Rudy Gobert scored 21 points and 10 rebounds on his return from exile due to teammate Kyle Anderson’s swing, and the Wolves filled the NBA bracket by clinching the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference with a near-perfect performance at the end of the season. Another tougher season than it was.

Anthony Edwards, who was 3-for-17 from the field against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, hit 8 of 19 shots and grabbed 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Wolves, who had a 58-30 lead in the paint.

Minnesota will face top-seeded Denver in a best-of-seven series that begins Sunday night. It will be a familiar streak for Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly, who built the Nuggets as Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations and President of Basketball Operations from June 2013 until his departure to the Timberwolves this past May.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder with 22 points, going 12-for-12 from the free throw line but only 5-for-19 from the field. Jalen Williams and Lou Dort each scored 17 points. After scoring 31 points against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday, Josh Gede was 2-for-13 from just the floor.

With their best defenseman Jaden McDaniels out with a broken hand — thanks to a wall hitting him out of frustration in the final game of the regular season shortly before Joubert swung at Anderson in an altercation during halftime — the Timberwolves put Nickel Alexander-Walker in the starting lineup. He was guarding his cousin, the dynamic Gilgios Alexander, at Connelly’s suggestion.

“It’s a very tough cover, but we were closing all the spaces around it,” coach Chris Finch said. “We did a good job of not really letting him get a beat.”

Gilgeous-Alexander was a slow starter in the Thunder’s opening game of the tournament as well, before scoring 25 of his 32 points after halftime in a 113-108 win over New Orleans. This time, the NBA’s fourth leading scorer committed his fourth foul early in the third quarter and then had to leave for treatment a few minutes later after Gobert accidentally hit him in the eye as he bounced and missed his stride.

Towns had 24 points on 8-for-12 shooting in Minnesota’s 108-102 overtime loss at Los Angeles in first game Tuesday, but he overshadowed the perimeter too much down the stretch as the Wolverhampton offense was largely crushed. Sad end.

This time, the Wolves took a much better mix of outside and inside shots with a ball that was constantly moving. They heavily based their advantage around the basket, as the big guys Towns and Gobert would work against the smaller Thunder.

Joubert moved rather aggressively, being listed as questionable with a back injury that might have kept him out of the Lakers anyway to make his team-imposed suspension moot. He wore a wrap around his midsection when on the bench, but found his groove in the second half.

The Thunder have come a long way from losing No. 2 overall seed Chet Holmgren, the 7-foot-1 Minneapolis native who broke his foot in a professional offseason game, but they let the Timberwolves pile up the highlights down the stretch.

“It was nice not to give a lead, which we did a lot,” Finch said. “The guys were so locked in. They knew what it was going to take.”

ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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