WASHINGTON – They say timing is everything in comedy and romance. So, too, it goes with double-overtime games in the Association, where on Friday night big man Gorgui Dieng and his Timberwolves team showed a knack for it in a 132-129 victory at Washington.
Unable to make a three-point shot during Friday-morning shooting games, Dieng made one that mattered most, with 19 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Zach LaVine, meanwhile, made two threes in the final 24 seconds of overtime to force a second extra session.
The Wolves won for the fourth time in their past seven games and the 24th time overall over a Wizards team desperate to get back in the East’s playoff race. They did so after trailing by seven points with 2:23 left in regulation, by four points with 28 seconds left in the first overtime and by five points with 2:13 left in double OT.
“This morning, I couldn’t make any,” Dieng said afterward. “I tried a lot. They were making fun of me. I just make it when it’s important.”
He also made the midrange shot that pushed the Wolves ahead for good in the second overtime, the determining points in an 8-0 finishing run that stood after Wizards center Marcin Gortat missed two crucial free throws with 15 seconds remaining. The Wolves defense forced Jared Dudley to badly miss a contested three near the final buzzer to make things official.
Where Dieng left off, LaVine picked up, making two clutch threes within 12 seconds of each other to force the second overtime. Wolves interim head coach Sam Mitchell said the first one was stolen, er, borrowed from an Atlanta team that likes to run it for Kyle Korver.
“I’ve just always wanted to take that shot, man,” LaVine said after making one of them over 6-11 Gortat. “You grow up taking them. I’ve made a lot of game-winners. I made one in college. I made a lot in high school. I made a couple last year. I thrive in that moment. I like taking those shots.”
And what if you miss?
“Then you miss,” LaVine said. “You’ve just got to be like a relief pitcher: You got another game the next day. Always have confidence in that next shot. I think I’m going to make it.”
He didn’t miss when it mattered most. Neither did Dieng nor rookie Karl Anthony-Towns, who started double overtime with a three and ended it with a cutting layup on a 27-point, 10-rebound night.
“You know what?” Towns said. “We trust each other so much, and I think that’s why we’re on the path to greatness. We trust each other so much, when we need each other we have full confidence in whoever gets the ball.”
Afterward, Wizards guard Bradley Beal called it a “horrible loss, just plain and simple,” and Wall termed it “pretty devastating” while Mitchell practically beamed.
“They don’t have anything to prove to me the way they’ve played this year,” Mitchell said. “With the size we give up, how young we are, we compete every night. We play hard, we play together every night. I’m just proud of them every night.”
• LaVine was on Dieng’s team during Friday’s shooting games.
“He couldn’t make a thing,” LaVine said. “I said, ‘Gorgui, move in’ because we kept losing to the other team. He said, ‘No, I need to practice.’ I was like all right, I see why. It was a great shot tonight.”
• Mitchell praised Towns for the agile defense he played denying Beal a potential game-tying three and Ricky Rubio for forcing Dudley into a tough shot at game’s end.
• Dieng played on a hurting hip Friday. Asked if making the night’s big shot made it better, he said: “No, it doesn’t. It was hurting through the game. We’ve almost finished the season. Once I take some time off, it will be OK.”
• Wolves owner Glen Taylor said Friday he has talked with Kevin Garnett about whether he’ll play again this season or next.
“His heart and his head say he wants to be here,” Taylor said in an interview with WCCO-AM radio. “His body may be telling him he might not be able to.”
• Lynx star Lindsay Whalen will be guest analyst on FSN’s Wolves-L.A. Clippers broadcast Wednesday.
• TNT has added the Wolves game at Golden State on April 5 to its lineup and nixed a Clippers-Lakers game. It remains a 9:30 p.m. Central start.