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Postgame: Wolves win went deeper than game-winning shot

OK, there was some luck involved Sunday in the form of Andrew Wiggins’ 30-foot, buzzer-beating shot that went off the glass, giving the Wolves a two-point victory over the Thunder in a suddenly silent Chesapeake Energy Arena.

But you have to give the Wolves this:

With the Thunder revving up offensively, eating up the 13-point lead the Wolves opened the fourth quarter with, Minnesota did not crumble.

Down the stretch there were several big-time possessions for the Wolves.

Here are a few:

--Four straight free throws by Jeff Teague the last two with 3:24 left.

--Wiggins’ driving layup with 1:43 left after Steven Adams’ three-point play had drawn the Thunder within a point.

--Wiggins’ put-back dunk with 37.1 seconds after Russell Westbrook’s driving layup.

--Karl-Anthony Towns incredibly athletic 9-foot floater with 9 seconds left.

The point is, the Wolves, for the second straight game, found a way to win a close game. Anyone who watched this team in recent seasons knows this is a sign of growth.

“Winning isn’t easy in this league,’’ Wiggins said. “One step at a time we’re getting better. Every game we’re getting better.’’

Here are some other impressions from tonight’s game:

--Welcome to the Wolves Jeff Teague. Tonight we saw the Jeff Teague everyone expected. He scored 19 points – six in the fourth quarter – to go with nine assists and six rebounds. “Jeff was terrific,’’ Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “That’s the Jeff we’re all expecting. Great speed, super aggressive. He was attacking.’’

--Both Taj Gibson and Towns had point-rebound double-doubles and the Wolves finished with a 45-36 edge on the boards.

--Jimmy Butler added 15 points, with six assists and six rebounds. Really, this might have been the first game the starting five looked like it was starting to gain some chemistry.

--Eight Wolves players hit a three-pointer tonight. All five starters along with Gorgui Dieng, Nemanja Bjelica, Jamal Crawford and Tyus Jones.

Rubio returns 'home' with Jazz for Wolves home opener

Ricky Rubio came "home" to Target Center Friday morning and almost didn't recognize the place.

"It doesn't feel like I'm here," he said.

(I stopped in Salt Lake City two weeks ago on my way home from Wolves' training camp in San Diego and get the reporting for a big story on Rubio's return that ran in today's paper. You can read it here.)

Traded by the Wolves to Utah last summer after six seasons here, he came back to a freshly renovated Target Center that makes its debut tonight just as Rubio does back here with his new Jazz team.

He spent part of Thursday night visiting friend and renter Nemanja Bjelica and Bjelica's newborn son at the home Rubio still owns in the area. He also spent some of the night walking around the city he still loves.

When asked how emotional he expects he'll be tonight, Rubio said, "I don't know. We will see when it comes time. Of course, I have a lot of friends. Last night, I was walking around the city and it felt like I never left. There are a lot of fans and a lot of friends here."

Wolves young star Karl-Anthony Towns credited Rubio for making him feel at home in Minnesota when he was drafted in 2015.

"Being able to play with him was a huge honor," Towns said. "I become a smarter player, I just learned a lot from him."

Asked how strange it will be to see Ricky in the opponent's uniform, Towns said, "I mean, how strange is it going to be with Ricky with a ponytail. How about that one?"

A couple other quick things from shoot:

* Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau called his decision to sit starter Jeff Teague and play backup point guard Tyus Jones the entire fourth quarter in Wednesday's season-opening loss at San Antonio an aberration. He said he planned to bring Teague back in the game with eight minutes left, then decided to stay with the group that was "rolling." When the Wolves took the lead with 4:50 left, he decided to stay with Jones and that group down the stretch.

He said Teague will finish "99 percent" of the games this season.

* The Wolves are wheeling and dealing in the G League. Their new Iowa team made a deal with Phoenix's G League team, sending the first overall pick in tomorrow's draft and the rights to Zach Andrews to the Northern Arizona Suns for Elijah Millsap, Michael Bryson and the eighth pick.

Final, 10/22 1 2 3 4 F
Minnesota 2-1 28 33 27 27 115
Oklahoma City 1-2 23 31 21 38 113

NBA Scoreboard

  • Philadelphia

    Detroit

     

    - F

    97

    86

  • Atlanta

    Miami

     

    - F

    93

    104

  • Memphis

    Houston

     

    - F

    98

    90

  • Charlotte

    Milwaukee

     

    - F

    94

    103

  • Golden State

    Dallas

     

    - F

    133

    103

  • Toronto

    San Antonio

     

    - F

    97

    101

  • Washington

    Denver

     

    - F

    109

    104

  • Sacramento

    Phoenix

     

    - F

    115

    117

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