OKLAHOMA CITY – Andrew Wiggins did not call glass.
After the game was over, surrounded by reporters, taking all sorts of abuse from his teammates, Wiggins admitted that much.
“No,” Wiggins said, smiling. “I did not.”
A few lockers down, Karl-Anthony Towns laughed. “He called ‘game,’ ” Towns said.
It counted. Wiggins’ final shot, a straightaway 30-foot dagger as time expired at Chesapeake Energy Arena, went off the glass and in, giving the Timberwolves a 115-113 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
It was a thrilling end to a game of runs, and it came just when it looked as if the Thunder, down 13 as the fourth quarter began, was going to run the Wolves off the court.
With Oklahoma City seemingly getting three points to the Wolves’s every two, that Wolves’ lead clicked down steadily. Down, down, down. Russell Westbrook tied it with a three-pointer with 29 seconds left. Towns hit an astonishingly athletic floater with 9 seconds left, only to have Carmelo Anthony calmly drain a three with 4.7 seconds left to put the Thunder up one.
But then, amid chaos, calm.
The Wolves had no timeouts left. With a full house of fans screaming, Taj Gibson grabbed the ball after Anthony’s basket, ran the baseline, looking for someone to pass to. He wanted to go to Jeff Teague but couldn’t. Then Wiggins faked one way, cut the other and got the ball. “My job was to be patient,” Gibson said. “Look for the open man.”
That was step one.
Wiggins’ plan was to dribble up the left sideline. But Thunder center Steven Adams, and then Paul George, got in his way. But here came Towns, setting a back screen, giving Wiggins some space. “The only thing going through my mind was, if I didn’t catch it, set a screen, get someone open,” Towns said.
That was step two.
And then, Wiggins: He said he knew how much time was left. He said there was no panic, only calm. He cut toward the middle of the court. He crossed the midcourt line, getting halfway to the three-point arc. And then he let it go, knowing it was at least on target.
“I felt calm,” he said. “It just felt good. Everything worked perfectly. Taj found me. KAT, great screen. Amazing.”
Wiggins, who hit a memorable game-winner at Phoenix last year, did it again. They were the final three of his 27 points — 12 in the fourth quarter — to go with seven rebounds and four assists. He was marvelous down the stretch, driving for a layup with 1:43 left after Adams’ three-point play had made it a one-point game. He also had a put-back dunk with 37.1 seconds left.
Towns also had 27, with 12 rebounds. The Wolves (2-1) got 19 points, nine assists and six rebounds from Jeff Teague.
“That’s the Jeff we were all expecting,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said.
And the Wolves needed it all against the Thunder (1-2), which is learning to play with new starters, too. Westbrook came alive in the fourth, scoring 15 of his 31 points, hitting three three-pointers. Anthony scored eight of his 23 in the fourth, including what would have been the game-winner.
But it wasn’t. For the second straight game the Wolves figured out a way to win a close game. And if there was some luck involved? “I’ve seen a lot of ’em go the other way against us,” Thibodeau said. “Usually it evens out.”
As the ball banked home, Gibson was the first one to reach Wiggins, who was quickly engulfed. Towns got there late. He had trailed the shot, thinking there might be time for a tip. Instead, he just knocked the ball into the stands. “We don’t need this any more for today,” Towns said.
But he got to the scrum late. “It was like I got to the club with the lights on and everyone was leaving,” Towns said. “But hey, I got to celebrate with him a little bit.”