Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves steal Carmelo Anthony's Thunder with buzzer-beater

By Brooke Pryor, The Sports Xchange  |  Oct. 23, 2017 at 12:18 AM
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- It was supposed to be Carmelo Anthony's first game-winner for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Instead, Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins spoiled the Thunder's celebration by launching a game-winning 3-pointer of his own, releasing the ball just as time expired to trump Anthony's late triple and give Minnesota a 115-113 win over Oklahoma City in front of a shell-shocked crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

"Whatever the circumstances are, you just have to find a way to win," said Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau, whose team beat the Utah Jazz 100-97 on Saturday. "I thought the last two nights we did that.

"The main thing for us, we have to concentrate on improving. ... If we're building the right habits, I think good things will happen."

Minnesota forward Taj Gibson knew he had to work quickly after Anthony's 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds left, running the baseline to get the ball inbounded to Wiggins.

Wiggins dribbled up the court, freed up by a screen set by Karl-Anthony Towns at midcourt. With the nearest Thunder defenders hanging by the 3-point arc, Wiggins banked the shot in and was quickly swarmed by his teammates.

"He's been hitting that shot, weirdly enough, the whole offseason and in practice," Towns said. "The only thing that came through my mind was if I didn't catch (the inbounds pass), just to set a screen to get someone open. I'm glad I was able to capitalize on it."

Thunder guard Russell Westbrook thought Towns' screen that set up Wiggins' game-winner wasn't legal.

"I ain't looked at it, but it looks like it," Westbrook said. "I haven't seen it, but it looks like it is (illegal), just based on just a conversation we had in the locker room."

Thunder center Steven Adams said, "It came down to probably three plays before that. ... Those were more controllable than that last play. I would call that a Hail Mary sort of play, and he made it.

"Those plays before that, it just came down to discipline, to boxing out. ... We've got to control that better and it would've led to a different outcome."

Westbrook, who scored 15 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter, hit a game-tying bucket with 29 seconds left. Towns answered by sinking a layup with 8.9 seconds remaining to tie the score.

That set the stage for Anthony, who finished with 23 points, for what he thought would be the game-winner. Instead, it was one-upped by Wiggins' prayer of a shot.

To even reach the final seconds, the Thunder had to claw back from several 13-point deficits thanks to another off-kilter offensive performance through the first three quarters.

The Timberwolves looked fresh, coming off a day's rest after a win over the Jazz on Friday night while the Thunder (1-2) appeared to lack energy on their second night of a back-to-back.

"Our energy level, that's something we can control, that and how aggressive we come out and play," Thunder guard Andre Roberson said. "That we've got to bring every night, no matter how we feel or what's going good for us. We've always got to have that. Going forward, we've got to come out of the gates better."

As sensational as Westbrook was in the fourth quarter, it was the effort of center Steven Adams and the Thunder bench that kept the team in the game as the rest of the offense struggled to find a rhythm.

Adams was instrumental in the first half, scoring 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field. The big man helped the Thunder outscore the Timberwolves 36-26 in the paint in the first half.

The Thunder bench, led by Jerami Grant and Raymond Felton with 12 points apiece, scored 28 points on the night.

Despite those efforts, the Thunder dug a hole early, facing a 13-point deficit midway through the first quarter as the Timberwolves picked up easy baskets.

Wiggins led the way for Minnesota (2-1) with 10 points in the first quarter, and he finished with 27 points. Towns also had 27 points for Minnesota. Timberwolves guard Jeff Teague scored 19 points.

Adams grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds. Westbrook handed out 10 assists. Paul George scored 14 points for the Thunder but sank only 6 of 20 shots from the floor.

NOTES: After spending part of last season with the Thunder, F Taj Gibson returned to Oklahoma City as a member of Minnesota's starting lineup and put together a 11-point, 10-rebound performance. ... G Raymond Felton had his best game as a Thunder player, scoring 12 points. ... Thunder G Andre Roberson airballed two free throws in the second half, missed all four of his shots from the floor and wound up scoreless. ... Oklahoma City G Russell Westbrook finished five rebounds shy of his 81st career double-double.

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