If you want to know the difference between leads lost late not so long ago and the Timberwolves' winning streak that reached three games with Friday night's 96-86 victory over Oklahoma City at Target Center, look no further than the play that brought Ricky Rubio off the bench swinging a towel and punching the air.
It lasted 13 seconds, a sequence that began with the ball bobbled by Wolves guard Brandon Rush high on one side of the floor, but involved all five Timberwolves and included six passes.
By the time the ball came all the way around to Rush again for a three-pointer from the floor's opposite corner, the Wolves led 80-68 with 10 minutes left and the Thunder called timeout to recover but never did.
"That's fun," said Rush, the little-used veteran who made his second consecutive start Friday because Zach LaVine remained out injured. "That kills another team's momentum."
Nobody seemed to have more fun than Rubio, who cheered from the sideline an assist on a night when he had once again had 14 of them by himself.
He was resting when Rush gathered a pass he almost bobbled away and threw the ball back out to rookie Kris Dunn at the three-point line. From there, the ball went left to Nemanja Bjelica, then to Shabazz Muhammad along the baseline. He shoveled a pass across the lane to Gorgui Dieng, who turned around and passed to Rush in the corner after he had moved stealthily across court to await a possible shot.
"It was amazing," Rubio said. "Not just the three-point shot; I think everybody touched the ball. I don't know how many passes there were, but everybody passed for a better shot. It was amazing watching that play. We want more of that."
The Wolves ended a four-game homestand with victories over Dallas, Houston and Oklahoma City and until this winning streak, they had too often lost games they should have won because of too much one-on-one play and poorly chosen shots.
"We're moving the ball," Rush said. "Guys are making plays, making the extra pass and it's starting to work out for us."
The Wolves ended the Thunder's three-game winning streak despite Russell Westbrook delivering his 19th triple-double of the season. It is the most in a season since Wilt Chamberlain had 31 nearly 50 years ago.
In truth, his 21 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds and 10 turnovers was something of a quadruple-double, and Westbrook also made only seven of 23 shots from the floor.
"Happens like that," Westbrook said. "Nights like that."
The Wolves held Oklahoma City to only 36 points in the second half and 38.8 percent shooting for the game. They forced 18 OKC turnovers, including 11 in the second half that the Wolves somehow turned into 25 points.
Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau considered the victory no time to celebrate, of course.
"We've got a lot of guys who are putting the work in and are improving," he said, "but we still have a long way to go. We're nowhere where we need to be."
But they are closer than they were just five days earlier, after Karl-Anthony Towns provided 29 points and 17 rebounds Friday.
Rubio's 14-point, 14-assist, five-turnover game gave him 46 assists and nine turnovers during the three-game winning streak.
"I'm playing better, I'm feeling better," Rubio said. "The results are there, but I don't want to be a four-game stand, I want to be all season long like that.
''It's hard, we have a lot of games, but my expectations are high and I'm going to keep them high, because I worked hard to do it."