As in comedy and oftentimes life, timing is everything in the Association, which young Timberwolves star Andrew Wiggins proved true once again in Friday's tense 103-102 victory over Golden State at Target Center.
Playing before the largest announced Target Center audience in franchise history, Wiggins made two free throws — the tying and winning ones, it turns out — with 12.9 seconds remaining after he had missed two just 18 seconds earlier.
When a game in which neither half seemingly wanted to end finally did, the Wolves won for the eighth time in their past 12 games and stayed 2 ½ games behind Denver in pursuit of the Western Conference's eighth and final playoff spot.
The league-leading Warriors, meanwhile, lost for the fourth time in six games since superstar Kevin Durant was lost for at least a month because of a strained knee ligament.
When it was over, Wiggins had scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half, the final two the most crucial of all in front of 20,412 fans.
"I missed two, but I made the two most important ones of the night," Wiggins said. "I shouldn't have missed the first two."
But he did, missing two that would have given the Wolves a three-point lead with 31 seconds left. Until then, the Wolves had led from the opening five minutes until Warriors superstar Stephen Curry's floater gave his team a fleeting 102-101 lead with 19.7 seconds left.
The lead lasted but seven seconds, long enough for Wiggins to drive, draw a foul and this time make both shots with the game once again on the line.
"You've got to be able to move on," Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. "You can't look back. You have to go to the next play, and that's what he did."
In six days, the Wolves lost in overtime at San Antonio, whupped the L.A. Clippers and ended a 10-game losing streak to the Warriors at Target Center.
They did so with Wiggins starring in the second half after teammate Karl-Anthony Towns had starred in the first half. Towns scored 19 of his 23 points in the first half, tying Wiggins for the franchise's longest streak of consecutive 20-point games with his 19th.
The Wolves did so with Ricky Rubio once again commanding the game, this time on both sides of the ball. His 17-point, 13-assist night was his fifth double-double in the past seven games, and his dogged defense helped forced Curry into a 10-for-27 shooting night. Curry went 1-for-8 on three-pointers.
"We're learning, we're getting experience and these games are meaning a lot," Rubio said. "We just go after it, and we play against one of the best teams right now. The last week I think is the best week we have played basketball all year. But that doesn't mean nothing if we lose tomorrow. We just keep going."
The Wolves play at Milwaukee on Saturday. Warriors coach Steve Kerr announced after Friday's game he will rest stars Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala on Saturday at San Antonio.
On Friday, both teams already had gone to their locker room when they were summoned back to the court to play the final six-tenths of a second.
The second half — and the game, of course — seemingly ended after Curry's 18-foot shot missed with three seconds left and the buzzer sounded while both teams fought for the rebound. While Kerr pleaded his team had fouled Brandon Rush with 2.5 seconds still left, the officials reviewed the play and called for a jump-ball toss with seven-tenths of a second left.
Rush batted it toward midcourt and the game was over.
"I think that was a first," Thibodeau said about getting recalled to finish the first half. "I tried to run out, though, at the end.''