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Wolves Show Heart In OT Win Over Hornets

by Kyle Ratke, Digital Content Manager

Digital Content Manager

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Charlotte -  Despite being down seven points with 38.8 seconds left in the game to the Hornets on the road, the Wolves came back, because they had to.

Of course, it’s not that easy. They didn't have to. They could have given up. But after losing back-to-back games after holding a lead in the fourth after major comebacks, Minnesota knew this game was an extremely valuable one. Sure, for the their record, but also for their mentality.

“It’s good to be able to talk and make fun of each other and have fun the way it’s supposed to be,” Wolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns said after the game. “We come in a lot of times, especially after losing close games recently, one possession, two possession games, come in here very distraught and upset. It’s always good to have a W.”

First it was Zach LaVine, who nailed a triple to put the Wolves within four with 38 seconds left. Thanks to solid defense from Ricky Rubio, Kemba Walker stepped out of bounds and turned the ball over, resulting in a Rubio 3-pointer. Wolves down one, 31.9 seconds left. Walker bounced back and hit a floater with 14.6 seconds left. Game over, right? Wrong. Andrew Wiggins nailed a triple with 8.9 seconds left in the fourth to tie the game at 106-106. That forced overtime.

After that, you kind of just had the gut feeling the Wolves were going to win. The Wolves scored the first seven points of overtime, including a Gorgui Dieng 3-pointer, on their way to a 125-120 win, snapping a four-game losing streak.

Joining the comeback as an impressive feat, it came on the second night of a back-to-back.

“The will to win. Zach hit a big shot, G [Gorgui Dieng] hit a big shot, everyone hit a big shot, then KAT [Karl-Anthony Towns] got the ball, good pass to G, G passed to Ricky, Ricky hit a big shot, then I hit the big shot at the end. Then in overtime it was just a team win,” Wiggins said.

Wiggins led the way for the Wolves, scoring 29 points. Towns added 27 points and 15 rebounds. LaVine scored 17 points, while Rubio had a nice all-around game of nine points, 12 assists and seven rebounds.

Minnesota’s bench stepped up big time for the second straight night, led by 12 points each from Shabazz Muhammad and Nemanja Bjelica. Rookie point guard Kris Dunn also added eight points and six assists.

“The big thing is it’s a win on the road…to come back the way we did,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said after the game. “I thought our bench was terrific again. In the first half, they really got us back into the game. We’re getting good minutes out of Kris, Cole [Aldrich], Bazz [Shabazz Muhammad] and Nemanja and that’s huge for us. They did the same thing, the starters got off to a slow start in the third, but the bench came in and got us going again. That’s what we need.”

Walker led the Hornets with 22 points. Frank Kaminsky finished with 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Nicolas Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 15 points each, while Batum also had 12 assists. Marco Belinelli finished with 15 points, nine coming from the 3-point line.

With the win, the Wolves advance to 6-14. The Hornets fall to 11-9.

Highlight of the Game

With 8.9 seconds left in the fourth quarter, just six seconds after Walker put the Hornets up three after hitting a floater, Wiggins spotted up and drilled a 3-pointer to knot things up at 106-106. It was Wiggins’ 23rd point and most important bucket of the night.

“I just knew we were down three, and I was like all right, it’s go time,” Wiggins said. “We’re either going to lose with this shot or I’m going to tie the game and I tied the game.”

The Numbers Game

  • Minnesota’s win snapped a six-game losing streak to the Hornets.
  • With two blocked shots, Towns has now blocked a shot in 27 consecutive games, a franchise record.
  • Wiggins has now scored 25 or more points 10 times this season.
  • The Wolves blocked 10 shots tonight, a season high.

Player of the Game

Wiggins made plays in the third quarter when the Wolves needed him most. In the third quarter alone, Wiggins finished with nine points.

Of course, he hit the game-tying shot to force an overtime. Wiggins quietly finished with 29 points, four assists and three steals. He shot 11-for-20 from the field and a perfect 5-for-5 from the free-throw line.

Up Next

The Wolves head back to Minneapolis on Saturday night. The team next plays at home against Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The game will air on Fox Sports North, NBATV and 830 WCCO AM.

 

 

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