Thunder use 3-point barrage to beat Timberwolves 112-103
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 31 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder relied on strong 3-point shooting Monday night to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 112-103.
The Thunder set a season high with 21 3-pointers in just 37 attempts (56.8%). Eight of the nine players who entered the game for the Thunder hit at least one 3-pointer. Only center Moses Brown didn’t convert from beyond the arc, but he contributed 17 rebounds.
Reserve guard Ty Jerome led the way by hitting all five of his 3-point attempts. Gilgeous-Alexander was 4 for 6 from deep, while Aleksej Pokuševski and Théo Maledon each hit three 3s.
“Shooting can be a little bit volatile,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “Some nights you generate great looks and the shots don’t fall, and sometimes they do. But I think tonight, some of it was the result of really great ball movement.
“It was just high, high-level team basketball that we displayed tonight, and the 3s were a byproduct of that.”
Karl-Anthony Towns led Minnesota with 33 points and 10 rebounds. Anthony Edwards scored 16 points and Ricky Rubio added 11 points and 11 assists for the Wolves, who lost their second straight.
“We were looking, but we couldn’t find a spark,” said Edwards, who was held in check for the second straight game after scoring 42 points in a win at Phoenix on Thursday.
The Thunder entered the game averaging 12.8 3-pointers a game, putting them in the middle of the pack among NBA teams. Their 34.6 shooting percentage on 3s, however, was worse than all but four teams.
“Some nights the shots don’t fall and some nights they do, but we’re going to bring the energy and competitiveness every night,” Gilgeous-Alexander said after the Thunder won their second road game in as many nights.
Leading by seven points at the break, the Thunder staved off two big Timberwolves runs in the third quarter to maintain their cushion. First, Jake Layman scored on a reverse layup to cap a 10-0 run that gave Minnesota a 60-59 lead early in the period.
The Thunder responded with a barrage of 3-pointers, one each from Pokuševski and Isaiah Roby and two from Gilgeous-Alexander that put them back on top 73-62.
Timberwolves coach Chris Finch called a timeout to stem the tide, and Towns responded by converting a three-point play. That keyed a 12-2 spurt that pulled Minnesota back to within a point.
But Pokuševski drained another 3 and Gilgeous-Alexander converted a driving layup and another 3-pointer of his own to keep Oklahoma City on top 83-76 after three.
Many of the Thunder’s 3-pointers were uncontested, a product of efficient and effective ball movement.
Svi Mykhailiuk, playing in his third game with the Thunder after being acquired in a trade with Detroit, hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions in the fourth. The next time down the court, his teammates worked the ball back to Mykhailiuk for another open look.
Instead, he made an extra pass to Kenrich Williams in the corner. Williams promptly drained a 3-pointer, the team’s third in less than a minute, stretching their lead to 15 points.
“I think that play really is a prime example of how we want to play,” Jerome said. “(Mykhailiuk had) just hit two, he’s hot, we made two passes to get it to him, but he turned down a good shot for a great shot.”
Thunder: The team record for 3-pointers in a game came on April 10, 2019, when Oklahoma City converted 23 of 54 3s in a game at Milwaukee. … Jerome came off the bench to hit four 3-pointers in the second quarter. He was recalled from the G League Oklahoma City Blue on Feb. 25. In 11 games since his recall, the second-year guard from Virginia has made 21 3-pointers while averaging 27 minutes a game.
Timberwolves: The team announced on Monday that a limited number of fans will be allowed in attendance at their final 12 home games of the season. Tickets will go on sale to the public on March 31, with an April 5 game against Sacramento marking the first time fans will be allowed at Target Center in more than a year. … Edwards, the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, has had an uneven rookie season. The last week has been a good illustration of his peaks and valleys. He dropped 42 points on the Suns on Thursday, but in two games since, he’s totaled just 27 points on 10-for-34 shooting.
Thunder: Oklahoma City returns home to face Memphis on Wednesday.
Timberwolves: Minnesota hosts the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday.