The first 48 minutes of action included some of everything for the Thunder. A game-altering steal from a rookie two-way player, a historic scoring performance from five Thunder players with over 20 points and a full-court laser pass from a 7-foot Kiwi quarterback proved to be enough to keep the Thunder alive and ultimately ahead in a remarkable overtime win against the Timberwolves.
The first twelve minutes of action for the Thunder included 14-21 shooting (66.7 percent) from the field including a perfect 3-3 performance from both Steven Adams and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The balanced scoring attack for the Thunder continued in the second quarter with four Thunder players reaching double figures. However, Minnesota threw another punch midway through the second quarter powered by a couple of timely buckets from Karl-Anthony Towns and Jeff Teague. With that momentum, the Timberwolves took a 53-58 lead into the half.
In the third, Jeff Teague erupted for 16 points off of a perfect 6-6 from the field including 1-1 from the 3-point line and 3-3 from the free throw line. The Thunder kept close by getting to the foul line and limiting opportunities from other scorers. By the end of the third, the Timberwolves held onto a 97-94 lead.
The Thunder started the fourth quarter on a roll behind dazzling midrange opportunities from Chris Paul and Dennis Schröder whose back-to-back scoring possessions at the beginning of the fourth gave the Thunder the lead. From that point, it was a 14-2 run by the Thunder to bring its advantage to 10 points before Minnesota called a timeout to quell the momentum.
The Timberwolves didn’t go down easy as they surged out of the timeout with an 8-0 run to bring the game back to within one point with just over one minute remaining in regulation. A 3-pointer from Towns gave the Timberwolves the lead. A bucket at the rim for Adams stopped the Thunder scoring drought, but a responding dunk from Towns kept the Wolves ahead.
With the Thunder trailing 119-121 with 33 seconds on the clock, the Thunder missed a couple opportunities on the offensive end to tie the game but a steal from two-way rookie, Lu Dort and two missed free throws from Jordan Bell left the score untouched until 1.1 seconds remaining on the clock.
Towns sank one of two free throws and in the midst of the shuffle of substitutions coming into the game, Minnesota was called for its second delay of game call resulting in a technical foul. Danilo Gallinari knocked down the technical shot and the ball returned to Towns on the opposing free throw line with the game now only separated by one point.
Towns made the next free throw giving Adams and Schröder enough time to connect on an unimaginable full-court pass and finish to tie the game and send it into overtime.
The final five minutes belonged to the Thunder. Behind 11 points from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander the Thunder outscored the Timberwolves 17-5 to close the contest with a 139-127 victory.
“Overall, I think coming off losing to Indiana in a hard-fought game, and then being able to come back and win this one speaks to how hard these guys are working and trying to go out and compete every night,” said Thunder head coach Billy Donovan.
The Thunder trailed 119-121 with 17.7 seconds remaining in the game. The Timberwolves called a timeout after securing a rebound off of a missed layup form the Thunder to set up a play and advance the ball. Minnesota had an opportunity to extend its lead and put the game out of reach for the Thunder.
While Ryan Saunders drew up a play for his squad, Coach Donovan had an ace up his sleeve as well – Lu Dort. The two-way player had played seven total minutes in his first game on the floor for the Thunder. Dort subbed in for Danilo Gallinari for a defensive possession.
Josh Okogie stood on the left sideline looking for an option inbounds. He whisked a risky pass along the left sideline intended to Shabazz Napier that resulted in a tumbling scramble on the floor for the loose ball. The Thunder called a timeout with 14 seconds remaining and emerging from the floor with the ball cleanly secured in both hands was the two-way rookie from Canada.
“I was just guarding him and he just kind of fumbled the ball and the ball went to the floor. I had an opportunity to go for it, so I just dove on the ball to get it,” recalled Dort.
Dort only recorded three seconds of playing time in the fourth quarter, just enough time to keep the Thunder hope alive with less than 15 seconds in the game.
“I think he has an opportunity to be an elite defender. I think you were able to see some of that today. He’s physical, he’s tough,” said Coach Donovan. “For the amount of minutes he got, he did a really nice job.”
Play of the Game
The Thunder’s options were low. Only 1.1 seconds remained on the clock with Towns at the free-throw line shooting two bonus shots and zero timeouts in the Thunder’s pocket. Towns missed the first and, after attempting to miss the second, rattled it through the rim to put the Timberwolves up two points. Calmly and swiftly, Adams swooped up the rebound and took the ball out on the baseline.
Pausing for only a brief second. Adams brought the ball back in true QB fashion and launched a floor-length bullet down the floor to Dennis Schröder who was already down the floor holding off Jeff Teague with one arm and preparing to catch the pass with the other.
The ball fell perfectly into Schröder’s right arm. He quickly collected, turned and banked the ball softly off the glass while his momentum carried him out of bounds. The backboard flashed red, the horn sounded and the Thunder faithful erupted. Overtime was next and momentum was swinging strongly in OKC’s favor.
“We had it in practice a couple of times,” said Schröder. “I mean Steve-O, he’s a helluva passer. We’re just communicating well defensively and offensively.”
Stat of the Night5
For the first time in 15 years in the NBA, five players scored over 20 points for one team. The efforts of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (29), Danilo Gallinari (21), Steven Adams (22), Chris Paul (30) and Dennis Schröder (25) all aided in the Thunder’s season high 139 points on the evening.
“It speaks more to their unselfishness as a group,” said Coach Donovan. “We’ve got really good guys that try to play the right way, try to play together, and they try to move the ball. It wasn’t a huge assist night for us but the moving the ball, the attacking and the playing downhill was good for us.”
Quotes of the Night
“I really respect and appreciate how hard our guys can play. The attitude and the mindset to play all the way to the end, to find ways to keep themselves alive and to compete for the entire game.” –Coach Donovan
“We stuck with it and it’s a helluva team win and it’s going to bring us together.” -Dennis Schröder
One day of practice awaits the Thunder before taking off for the longest road stint of the season. The four-game stretch begins on Sunday against the Trail Blazers before continuing on Monday against the Jazz.