The Timberwolves of Ricky Rubio and Juancho Hernangómez saved a game in the last seconds against the Oklahoma City Thunder (OKC) who were tied for much of the game but who were complicated, once again, unnecessarily in the fourth period.
A triple by Minnesota’s starting point guard, D’Angelo Russell, with 3 seconds remaining until the final whistle, broke the 103-103 tie that marked the score and allowed the Timberwolves break nine-game losing streak and add his seventh victory so far this season.
The game was presented a priori as one of the best opportunities for the Wolves to score another much needed victory on their locker: the Thunder were seriously touched by having George Hill, Shai Gilgeous-Alexandre and Luguentz Dort, three players of the quintet headline.
Meanwhile, Minnesotans still cannot count on their star, the pivot of Dominican origin Karl-Anthony Edwards, nor with Juancho Hernangómez, although the Spanish has already returned to the Wolves bench. Neither of them has been able to play any games since January 13 due to the protocols of the NBA with the covid-19.
The game began with a brilliant departure from Oklahomans. In less than two minutes of play, they punished Minnesota with an 8-0 run. But Russell started to get a run and in the next two minutes, the Wolves returned the favor to the Thunder by imposing a 0-8 run.
During the following minutes, the two teams exchanged the lead on the scoreboard and the first 12 minutes ended with a two-point advantage for the Wolves, with a 23-25 in the light thanks to the scoring efficiency of Malik Beasley who scored two triples and two shots of two in the first quarter.
In the Thunder, veteran center Al Horford and young forward Hamidou Diallo were the most effective with 7 points each.
In the second quarter, It looked like the Wolves would take off of his opponent. Rubio opened the scoring with a basket tackle that put the score at 23-27. After a brief reaction from OKC, the Minnesotans began to open a considerable lead that reached 8 points, 32-40 with 5.46 minutes remaining.
Mike Muscala’s 5 consecutive points, three of them with a triple, again closed the distance to one possession, 38-40. But it was veteran Horford who took over for the Thunder and scored 7 consecutive points in the last minute of the second quarter, allowing OKC to go to the locker room ahead, 55-51.
After the break, the two teams came out hesitant. On four occasions, the team ahead changed. But in the closing minutes of the third quarter, two consecutive 3-pointers by Russell and another by Jaylen Nowel placed the Timberwolves. 9 points ahead, 76-85, the maximum distance of the match.
The final 12 minutes were a progressive wear of that advantage The result of the poor shooting selection of the Wolves players. With 5 minutes remaining in the match, the distance had been shortened to 2 points, 93-95 and victory was in serious jeopardy.
The feeling on the court is that the Timberwolves were disintegrating once more in the fourth quarter, as they did in the previous game against the San Antonio Spurs when they blew a 16-point lead in the final 12 minutes of the game to lose 111- 108.
When, with 25 seconds remaining, with 103-103 on the scoreboard, the bad communication between Rubio and Russell caused the loss of the ball, everything pointed to the Minnesotans repeating the drama of San Antonio. But Diallo missed his tackle and Russell executed perfectly a triple with 3 seconds to go that sentenced the party.