Wednesday morning the Timberwolves revealed their fourth uniform. Called the "City Edition,'' it is mainly gray. After Wednesday night's game against Denver, the team should consider a fifth. Called the "Jimmy Butler Edition,'' it would feature a cape.
He did it again.
After 2½ quarters of beautiful basketball — and an 18-point Wolves lead — had degenerated into a do-or-die overtime, Butler scored 12 of Minnesota's 14 points in overtime, dishing the ball to Jamal Crawford for the ultimate game-winner in a 128-125 victory over the Nuggets that pushed Minnesota's winning streak to five games.
Superman struck again.
"I've been saying this all year,'' Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said after it was over. "I'm hoping everyone is recognizing how special he is. He's changed everything for us. Big play after big play, guards everyone. Hustle plays. Tough rebounds. Everything."
That about sums it up.
Butler had 39 points, with 12 coming in the 5-minute overtime, seven of them from the line. He also got two huge overtime rebounds and the game-winning assist.
"Thibs, all the coaches, my teammates, they told me to keep going,'' Butler said. "I was really, really locked in. That's the scary part about it."
He did it with Karl-Anthony Towns (14 points, 13 rebounds) having fouled out in the fourth quarter, with Taj Gibson (20 points) fouled out in the first minute in overtime, and with starting point guard Jeff Teague (11 points, 10 assists) out because of an injured left knee that will undergo an MRI Thursday. Butler did it after the Wolves had squandered a 19-point first-half lead, an 18-point lead with 4 minutes to go in the third quarter and a nine-point lead with 2:50 left in regulation.
Denver's Will Barton (28 points) had forced overtime with two free throws with 5.5 seconds left.
Butler decided his team wouldn't lose.
"He just imposed his will," Crawford said. "He really did. He literally willed us."
And all after Gary Harris' three-pointer to open the OT gave Denver its biggest lead (three) of the game.
Butler hit two free throws with 4:12 left. After Nikola Jokic (22 points) scored, Butler was fouled on a three-point attempt and made two. After Trey Lyles' dunk, Butler's two free throws with 1:46 left tied the score.
At the other end Butler grabbed the rebound of Jokic's miss, then scored on a 14-footer. Two Jokic free throws with 1:06 left tied the score for the last time, then Butler got the ball to Crawford for what turned out to be the game-winner.
He was going to shoot, he said. But Crawford, open, kept yelling his name.
"I really was going to shoot,'' Butler said. "But if Jamal screams, 'Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy,' that means he's open. He did what he's done for us all year. He made the shot."
With the sellout crowd of 18,978 chanting MVP, Butler hit one free throw with 16.9 seconds left to finish the scoring.
This has been Butler's habit this month, during which he has scored 30 or more points in 13 December games. Thibodeau, who coached Butler in Chicago, said he believes Butler is playing the best ball of his career.
Wednesday he simply leapt a tall opponent in a single bound. Bring on the cape.
"When his best is needed, he's always at his best," Thibodeau said.