Wednesday night at Target Center, for the first time since Dec. 23, D'Angelo Russell put on his Timberwolves uniform. For the first time since Dec. 21, Karl-Anthony Towns did the same.

For the first time since Dec. 15 — and for just the 11th time this season — Wolves coach Chris Finch was able to pencil in his preferred starting lineup.

That starting lineup is now 9-2.

But that doesn't tell the whole story of Minnesota's 98-90 victory over Oklahoma City.

The fact the Wolves (18-20) appear to be coming out the other end of the tunnel when it comes to the NBA's health and safety protocols is big. Both Towns and Russell looked rusty at times, but they were back, and Towns had a 17-point, 16-rebound double-double.

But it was the depth of talent — and confidence — Wolves reserves built while the team made its way through a run of COVID-19 cases that bore fruit Wednesday.

"I think it's showing our mental toughness,'' said Jaylen Nowell. He was one of the players who raised his profile in recent weeks. Wednesday he scored nine of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, seven in a 10-2 run the Wolves used to reassert control after a 19-point lead late in the third quarter had dwindled to one midway through the fourth. "We're getting mentally tougher as things start to happen.''

After a 30-10 first quarter, it looked easy.

Of course it wasn't. Not with Oklahoma City winning most of the hustle points — the Thunder got almost half its points off offensive rebounds (21) or on the break (19).

But the Wolves got key performances both from their starters and their reserves. Patrick Beverley scored 20 points with six assists. It was his sometimes very vocal leadership that relit the fire in the fourth quarter. Anthony Edwards scored 22 points, seven in the fourth.

But Nowell and Jayden McDaniels (11 points) were big, too.

That 19-point lead was down to one on Kenrich Williams' driving layup with 5:27 left.

The Wolves responded with a 10-2 run in which Nowell scored seven, Beverley scored three with a steal and an assist. Beverley's finger roll with 2:26 left put the Wolves back up nine and in control, again.

BOXSCORE: Wolves 98, Oklahoma City 90

Before the game, Finch pledged to keep giving players like Nowell and McDaniels minutes. At the end of the game, with Malik Beasley struggling with his shot and Russell maxed out on minutes, Finch went with Edwards, Jarred Vanderbilt, Beverley, Towns and Nowell in crunch time.

"Sometimes it's just about finding the right five guys that actually have it,'' Finch said.

Said Nowell: "It means everything. It's a testament to the work I put in, with my body and mentally as well. I've watched so much film. For him to trust me, and to make the right plays at the end of the game? Everything I could ever want.''

The Thunder was led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's 19 points. Josh Giddey had 14 points, 15 rebounds and six assists.

And now it's getting interesting. The Wolves are close to .500. They are back to full strength, with Towns and Russell having gotten through their return. Edwards has said from the start the Wolves were going to be a playoff team. Now, with a bench that is deeper than it was weeks before, with all the starters back?

"We got everybody back now,'' Edwards said. "So all the excuses are out the window. I think we're going to go on a run right here, get these next five or six. When we got everybody, ain't no excuses. You got us at full strength and I think we're a hard team to beat.''