Butler’s 39 points lift Wolves past Nuggets in OT
MINNEAPOLIS — Jimmy Butler scored 12 of Minnesota’s 14 points in overtime and finished with a season-high 39 to lift the Timberwolves to a 128-125 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.
Andrew Wiggins made five 3-pointers and scored 21 points for Minnesota, which won its fifth straight. Taj Gibson added 20 points, and Karl-Anthony Towns had 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Will Barton led Denver with 28 points, while Trey Lyles added 23 points and 10 rebounds. Nikola Jokic scored 22 for the Nuggets, whose three-game winning streak ended.
Butler scored Minnesota’s first 11 points in overtime. Then with the game tied 125-all and 50 seconds to go, he found Jamal Crawford open for an 18-foot jump shot.
After the Nuggets missed on the other end, Butler skied for the defensive rebound, brought the ball down the court and drew a foul. He hit one of two free throws, and Lyles missed a desperation 3-point attempt at the buzzer to help Minnesota hang on after blowing a 19-point lead.
The Wolves played the overtime period without Towns, who fouled out late in the fourth quarter, and point guard Jeff Teague, who limped off the court in the final 20 seconds with what appeared to be a left leg injury.
Wiggins’ four-point play gave Minnesota a 109-100 lead with just under three minutes to play in regulation. But Denver stormed back, with Barton scoring six points in a 10-2 run that cut the Wolves’ lead to a point with 51 seconds to play. Barton eventually hit a pair of free throws to send the game to overtime tied at 114.
Minnesota got off to a hot start from outside, making its first five 3-pointers on consecutive shots by Towns, Teague, Wiggins (twice) and Butler to build an early 19-7 lead.
The Timberwolves came into the game 29th in the NBA in 3-pointers made per game at 8.1, but they already had nine (on 18 attempts) by halftime, including a 4-for-4 start by Wiggins, a 30 percent 3-point shooter on the season. They finished the night 12 for 29 from beyond the arc.
Minnesota pushed its lead to as many as 19 points before taking a 71-58 cushion into the locker room at halftime. The lead grew back to 19 before Barton scored eight points and Lyles added five in a 13-0 run late in the third that pulled Denver to 88-82.
Nuggets: Lyles has scored in double digits in Denver’s last seven games. . The Nuggets are now 2-4 on the back end of back-to-backs this year. After beating Utah on Tuesday, they are 5-1 on the front end. . Denver had held its previous three opponents below 86 points, its longest such streak since 2012.
Timberwolves: F Nemanja Bjelica played his second straight game after missing the previous 15 with a sprained foot. … Minnesota’s 71-point first half was its highest-scoring half this season. . Towns posted his league-leading 28th double-double. . Minnesota improved to 19-6 against the Western Conference and 7-1 against the Northwest Division.
Nuggets: Host Philadelphia on Saturday.
Timberwolves: At Milwaukee on Thursday.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
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