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Wolves top Rockets 121-105 in Game 3, cut series lead to 2-1

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Minnesota's slow-to-develop, up-and-down defense has finally started to shine, against this high-octane Houston team no less.

There's been no wait quite like the one for a win by the Timberwolves in the playoffs, though.

Jimmy Butler hit four 3-pointers among his 28 points and Karl-Anthony Towns snapped back from a bad start to the series with 18 points and 16 rebounds, leading the Timberwolves past the Rockets 121-105 in Game 3 on Saturday night for their first postseason victory in 14 years.

''This city deserves being in the playoffs a little bit longer,'' Butler said. ''We'll see what we have. But as long as we guard, as long as we defend, we'll put ourselves in a good enough position to win.''

Jeff Teague scored 23 points and Andrew Wiggins pitched in 20 points with another four 3-pointers, helping the Timberwolves match the NBA's best 3-point shooting team with 15 makes apiece from long range. Minnesota took 27; Houston launched 41.

''I tell everybody all the time, as long as you're in rhythm, no matter if somebody's in front of you or not, it's a good shot for you because we think that you can make that,'' Butler said after the Wolves shot 50 percent overall from the floor.

Not to be left out was Derrick Rose and his 17 points off the bench, including 10 points in nine minutes before halftime. The Wolves closed the third quarter with a 26-14 run and produced spurts of 15-3 and 11-2 in the final period, perfecting their plan to play at a faster pace.

''We've got to do a better job of imposing our will at the beginning of the game,'' said James Harden, who led the Rockets with 29 points.

The Rockets made four 3-pointers on their last seven possessions of the first half to turn an 11-point deficit to just one in less than 3 1/2 minutes up until the break. Butler twisted his left ankle during that stretch, causing him to clutch his foot in pain and create some brief anxiety in the arena, but he didn't require, or at least accept, any medical attention. There was no hint that he was hurt in the second half.

''He's the heart and soul,'' said Teague, who made three 3-pointers himself. ''When he's out there competing, it rubs off on everybody.''

Taj Gibson hounded Harden and forced an airballed 3-pointer, prompting the apex of the noise throughout the night with the Wolves ahead 77-70. Towns powered his way past Ryan Anderson for a layup and a three-point play with 1:57 left in the third quarter, pushing the lead to 10 points, and he flexed his biceps to the crowd after the whistle as he walked like King Kong to the corner of the court in celebration. There was no letdown in the fourth quarter, either.

''Give them a lot of credit. A lot of their 3s were butt naked, too. We were giving them uncontested 3s, and you know we've got to be better,'' said Chris Paul, who fouled out with 17 points.

For the first time since May 29, 2004, the fifth game of the Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, the NBA playoffs descended on downtown Minneapolis. The shine of this long-awaited return to relevance by the 29-year-old franchise was dulled a bit by the team's fade down the stretch to finish eighth in the conference and draw the most daunting matchup available against a Rockets team that won all four regular season games by an average of 16 points and took the first two games of this series in Houston.

The occasion was still plenty special, though, with the memory of late coach and executive Flip Saunders not far from the minds of the Target Center regulars, and the sellout crowd matched the moment to make the arena louder than it had been all season.

''It was crazy. All the fans were in the game the whole time,'' Wiggins said. ''They helped us gain momentum going forward.''

HARD FOR HARDEN

Harden, who had 44 points in Game 1 but lost his rainbow jumper in Game 2 and finished only 2 for 18 from the floor for 12 points, wasn't a whole lot sharper in Game 3. He went 9 for 21, including 3 for 8 from 3-point range.

''We stooped to their level, playing slow,'' said Rockets sixth man Eric Gordon, who went 5 for 16 from the floor. ''We didn't create.''

GOING TO TOWNS

After totaling only 13 points over the first two games, Towns was constantly double-teamed by the Rockets and didn't attempt a shot in the first quarter. The 7-footer's energy got going soon after that, though, with an emphatic dunk on Clint Capela after peeling away from the post-up to snag a high pass from Teague.

''You let the game tell you what to happen,'' Towns said. ''Just trying to find different ways to score.''

TIP-INS

Rockets: Anderson was in action for the first time in seven games due to a sprained left ankle and had with 12 points. Houston was 18-1 during the regular season when he made at least three 3-point shots. ... The Rockets lost for only the fourth time in 48 games this season with Harden, Paul and Capela all on the floor.

Timberwolves: Minnesota had 29 assists on 45 made field goals, with only seven turnovers. ... Rose has 42 points in the series on 19-for-39 shooting in 62 minutes. ... The Wolves beat the Rockets for just the third time in their last 23 meetings. ... This was the second-most made 3-pointers of the season for Minnesota.

UP NEXT

Game 4 is on Monday night at 8 p.m. EDT.

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1st Quarter

Time Team Play Score
12:00   Jumpball  
11:45 +3 Trevor Ariza made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Chris Paul 3-0
11:21   Jeff Teague missed 3-pt. jump shot  
11:20   Defensive rebound by Chris Paul  
11:08   P.J. Tucker missed 3-pt. jump shot  
11:05   Defensive rebound by Jimmy Butler  
10:57 +2 Jimmy Butler made turnaround jump shot 3-2
10:41   P.J. Tucker missed 3-pt. jump shot  
10:39   Defensive rebound by Karl-Anthony Towns  
10:32   Bad pass turnover on Jeff Teague, stolen by Trevor Ariza  
10:22 +2 Chris Paul made jump shot 5-2
10:04 +3 Andrew Wiggins made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jimmy Butler 5-5
9:42   P.J. Tucker missed driving layup  
9:41   Defensive rebound by Karl-Anthony Towns  
9:35 +3 Jimmy Butler made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jeff Teague 5-8
9:12   Clint Capela missed hook shot  
9:12   Defensive rebound by Jimmy Butler  
9:02   Jimmy Butler missed layup, blocked by Clint Capela  
8:58   Defensive rebound by James Harden  
8:49   Clint Capela missed hook shot  
8:47   Offensive rebound by Clint Capela  
8:47   Shooting foul on Karl-Anthony Towns  
8:47 +1 Clint Capela made 1st of 2 free throws 6-8
8:47   Clint Capela missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
8:45   Defensive rebound by Taj Gibson  
8:39 +2 Andrew Wiggins made turnaround jump shot, assist by Jeff Teague 6-10
8:21   Chris Paul missed 3-pt. jump shot  
8:18   Defensive rebound by Jimmy Butler  
8:06 +3 Jeff Teague made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Andrew Wiggins 6-13
7:39 +3 James Harden made 3-pt. jump shot 9-13
7:23   Traveling violation turnover on Karl-Anthony Towns  
7:09   Shooting foul on Taj Gibson  
7:09   Clint Capela missed 1st of 2 free throws  
7:09   Team rebound  
7:09   Clint Capela missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
7:06   Defensive rebound by Karl-Anthony Towns  
7:03   Personal foul on Chris Paul  
7:01   Shooting foul on Eric Gordon  
7:01 +1 Jeff Teague made 1st of 2 free throws 9-14
7:01   Jeff Teague missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
6:59   Defensive rebound by P.J. Tucker  
6:41   James Harden missed 3-pt. jump shot  
6:38   Defensive rebound by Andrew Wiggins  
6:29   Jimmy Butler missed jump shot  
6:26   Defensive rebound by P.J. Tucker  
6:21   Shooting foul on Jimmy Butler  
6:21 +1 P.J. Tucker made 1st of 2 free throws 10-14
6:21 +1 P.J. Tucker made 2nd of 2 free throws 11-14
6:07   Unsportsmanlike technical foul  
6:07   Jimmy Butler missed free throw  
6:07   Team rebound  
5:56   Andrew Wiggins missed jump shot  
5:52   Defensive rebound by James Harden  
5:38 +3 Eric Gordon made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by P.J. Tucker 14-14
5:25 +2 Taj Gibson made floating jump shot, assist by Andrew Wiggins 14-16
5:10 +2 Eric Gordon made reverse layup 16-16
5:00   Jimmy Butler missed 3-pt. jump shot  
4:57   Offensive rebound by Taj Gibson  
4:53   Taj Gibson missed layup, blocked by P.J. Tucker  
4:49   Offensive rebound by Karl-Anthony Towns  
4:49   Bad pass turnover on Karl-Anthony Towns, stolen by James Harden  
4:42   James Harden missed 3-pt. jump shot  
4:38   Defensive rebound by Karl-Anthony Towns  
4:20   Out of bounds turnover on Andrew Wiggins  
4:04   Eric Gordon missed 3-pt. jump shot  
3:59   Defensive rebound by Taj Gibson  
3:50 +2 Jimmy Butler made floating jump shot 16-18
3:32   James Harden missed driving layup  
3:30   Defensive rebound by Tyus Jones  
3:24 +2 Jimmy Butler made driving layup, assist by Gorgui Dieng 16-20
3:05 +2 Nene made layup, assist by James Harden 18-20
2:45 +2 Jimmy Butler made jump shot 18-22
2:29 +2 James Harden made driving dunk 20-22
2:16   Shooting foul on Gerald Green  
2:16 +1 Andrew Wiggins made 1st of 2 free throws 20-23
2:16 +1 Andrew Wiggins made 2nd of 2 free throws 20-24
2:07 +3 Gerald Green made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Chris Paul 23-24
1:50   Nemanja Bjelica missed 3-pt. jump shot  
1:50   Offensive rebound by Andrew Wiggins  
1:42   Jeff Teague missed 3-pt. jump shot  
1:41   Team rebound  
1:41   Personal foul on Karl-Anthony Towns  
1:26   Chris Paul missed floating jump shot  
1:25   Offensive rebound by Clint Capela  
1:25   Clint Capela missed dunk  
1:24   Team rebound  
1:19 +3 Gerald Green made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Chris Paul 26-24
0:58   Jamal Crawford missed 3-pt. jump shot  
0:56   Defensive rebound by Chris Paul  
0:47 +2 Chris Paul made driving layup 28-24
0:36 +3 Andrew Wiggins made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Karl-Anthony Towns 28-27
0:27   Ryan Anderson missed 3-pt. jump shot  
0:24   Offensive rebound by Eric Gordon  
0:22   Eric Gordon missed 3-pt. jump shot  
0:19   Defensive rebound by Andrew Wiggins  
0:04   Personal foul on Gerald Green  
0:00   Jamal Crawford missed 3-pt. jump shot  
0:00   Team rebound  

2nd Quarter

Time Team Play Score
11:38   Derrick Rose missed fade-away jump shot  
11:35   Defensive rebound by Clint Capela  
11:29   Gerald Green missed 3-pt. jump shot  
11:26   Defensive rebound by Jamal Crawford  
11:20 +2 Derrick Rose made layup, assist by Jamal Crawford 28-29
10:57   Eric Gordon missed floating jump shot  
10:54   Defensive rebound by Jeff Teague  
10:46 +2 Karl-Anthony Towns made dunk, assist by Jeff Teague 28-31
10:27   Lost ball turnover on Chris Paul, stolen by Jamal Crawford  
10:23 +2 Jamal Crawford made jump shot, assist by Jimmy Butler 28-33
10:07 +2 Gerald Green made jump shot, assist by Clint Capela 30-33
9:58   Personal foul on Chris Paul  
9:51   Derrick Rose missed driving layup  
9:51   Team rebound  
9:34 +3 Jamal Crawford made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Derrick Rose 30-36
9:22   Personal foul on Jamal Crawford  
9:12 +2 Chris Paul made jump shot 32-36
8:55 +2 Jimmy Butler made driving layup 32-38
8:43   Gerald Green missed 3-pt. jump shot  
8:42   Team rebound  
8:26   Jamal Crawford missed jump shot  
8:19   Offensive rebound by Karl-Anthony Towns  
8:19   Karl-Anthony Towns missed dunk  
8:18   Defensive rebound by Clint Capela  
8:09   Eric Gordon missed driving layup, blocked by Karl-Anthony Towns  
8:09   Team rebound  
7:54   Shooting foul on Clint Capela  
7:54 +1 Karl-Anthony Towns made 1st of 2 free throws 32-39
7:54 +1 Karl-Anthony Towns made 2nd of 2 free throws 32-40
7:42 +2 James Harden made jump shot 34-40
7:17 +2 Derrick Rose made reverse layup, assist by Jeff Teague 34-42
7:06   Eric Gordon missed 3-pt. turnaround jump shot  
7:03   Defensive rebound by Karl-Anthony Towns  
6:41   Jeff Teague missed finger-roll layup  
6:39   Defensive rebound by Nene  
6:28   Lost ball turnover on James Harden, stolen by Derrick Rose  
6:23 +2 Derrick Rose made layup, assist by Jamal Crawford 34-44
6:02 +2 Chris Paul made fade-away jump shot 36-44
5:46 +2 Derrick Rose made jump shot, assist by Jeff Teague 36-46
5:39   Offensive foul on Nene  
5:39   Offensive foul on Nene  
5:17   Gorgui Dieng missed jump shot  
5:17   Team rebound  
4:54   James Harden missed jump shot  
4:51   Defensive rebound by Jeff Teague  
4:37   Jimmy Butler missed layup  
4:37   Team rebound  
4:37   Personal foul on Gerald Green  
4:29   Derrick Rose missed jump shot  
4:25   Defensive rebound by P.J. Tucker  
4:19   Shooting foul on Gorgui Dieng  
4:19   Team rebound  
4:19   James Harden missed 1st of 2 free throws  
4:19 +1 James Harden made 2nd of 2 free throws 37-46
4:05 +2 Derrick Rose made layup, assist by Karl-Anthony Towns 37-48
3:51   P.J. Tucker missed 3-pt. jump shot  
3:46   Defensive rebound by Karl-Anthony Towns  
3:42   Personal foul on P.J. Tucker  
3:27   Derrick Rose missed hook shot  
3:25   Defensive rebound by Ryan Anderson  
3:17 +3 Eric Gordon made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Ryan Anderson 40-48
3:07   Jamal Crawford missed jump shot  
3:03   Defensive rebound by Trevor Ariza  
2:59   Eric Gordon missed 3-pt. jump shot  
2:58   Team rebound  
2:44 +2 Karl-Anthony Towns made hook shot, assist by Andrew Wiggins 40-50
2:25 +3 Eric Gordon made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Chris Paul 43-50
2:06   Taj Gibson missed jump shot  
2:04   Defensive rebound by James Harden  
1:56   James Harden missed floating jump shot  
1:53   Defensive rebound by Karl-Anthony Towns  
1:40   Jimmy Butler missed 3-pt. jump shot  
1:37   Defensive rebound by Clint Capela  
1:30   Shooting foul on Jeff Teague  
1:30 +1 Chris Paul made 1st of 2 free throws 44-50
1:30 +1 Chris Paul made 2nd of 2 free throws 45-50
1:23 +2 Jeff Teague made driving layup 45-52
1:02 +3 James Harden made 3-pt. jump shot 48-52
0:51   Taj Gibson missed layup  
0:50   Defensive rebound by Trevor Ariza  
0:43 +3 Trevor Ariza made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Chris Paul 51-52
0:22   Karl-Anthony Towns missed jump shot  
0:20   Defensive rebound by Clint Capela  
0:02   Shooting foul on Taj Gibson  
0:02   Team rebound  
0:02   Clint Capela missed 1st of 2 free throws  
0:02   Defensive rebound by Karl-Anthony Towns  
0:02   Clint Capela missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
0:00   Karl-Anthony Towns missed 3-pt. jump shot  
0:00   Team rebound  
0:00   End of period  

3rd Quarter

Time Team Play Score
11:47   Karl-Anthony Towns missed fade-away jump shot  
11:45   Defensive rebound by P.J. Tucker  
11:38   James Harden missed jump shot  
11:34   Defensive rebound by Jeff Teague  
11:15   Jimmy Butler missed driving layup  
11:11   Offensive rebound by Andrew Wiggins  
11:10   Shooting foul on James Harden  
11:10 +1 Jimmy Butler made 1st of 2 free throws 51-53
11:10 +1 Jimmy Butler made 2nd of 2 free throws 51-54
10:56 +2 Clint Capela made alley-oop shot, assist by James Harden 53-54
10:37   Karl-Anthony Towns missed hook shot  
10:35   Defensive rebound by Trevor Ariza  
10:29 +3 Chris Paul made 3-pt. jump shot 56-54
10:07 +2 Jeff Teague made floating jump shot 56-56
9:50   James Harden missed driving layup  
9:48   Defensive rebound by Jimmy Butler  
9:45   Andrew Wiggins missed 3-pt. jump shot  
9:42   Defensive rebound by Trevor Ariza  
9:29 +2 James Harden made driving layup 58-56
9:14   Jeff Teague missed floating jump shot  
9:11   Defensive rebound by Chris Paul  
8:57   Chris Paul missed 3-pt. jump shot  
8:56   Defensive rebound by Karl-Anthony Towns  
8:50 +3 Andrew Wiggins made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jeff Teague 58-59
8:28   Bad pass turnover on James Harden, stolen by Jeff Teague  
8:21   Andrew Wiggins missed 3-pt. jump shot  
8:19   Defensive rebound by Clint Capela  
8:12 +3 James Harden made 3-pt. jump shot 61-59
7:55 +3 Jimmy Butler made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Andrew Wiggins 61-62
7:44   Trevor Ariza missed 3-pt. jump shot  
7:43   Defensive rebound by Andrew Wiggins  
7:34 +2 Jeff Teague made driving layup 61-64
7:15   James Harden missed 3-pt. jump shot  
7:13   Offensive rebound by Clint Capela  
7:11 +2 Clint Capela made dunk 63-64
7:08   Kicked ball violation  
6:55 +2 Karl-Anthony Towns made layup, assist by Jeff Teague 63-66
6:40   Eric Gordon missed turnaround jump shot  
6:39   Defensive rebound by Karl-Anthony Towns  
6:24 +2 Andrew Wiggins made finger-roll layup, assist by Jeff Teague 63-68
6:12   P.J. Tucker missed 3-pt. jump shot  
6:07   Offensive rebound by Clint Capela  
6:07   Shooting foul on Jeff Teague  
6:07   Team rebound  
6:07   Eric Gordon missed 1st of 3 free throws  
6:07 +1 Eric Gordon made 2nd of 3 free throws 64-68
6:07 +1 Eric Gordon made 3rd of 3 free throws 65-68
5:55 +3 Karl-Anthony Towns made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Andrew Wiggins 65-71
5:40 +3 Ryan Anderson made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by James Harden 68-71
5:23   Jeff Teague missed floating jump shot  
5:21   Defensive rebound by James Harden  
5:14   James Harden missed reverse layup  
5:11   Defensive rebound by Karl-Anthony Towns  
5:02 +2 Jimmy Butler made driving layup 68-73
4:42   Trevor Ariza missed 3-pt. jump shot  
4:39   Offensive rebound by Ryan Anderson  
4:38   Bad pass turnover on Ryan Anderson, stolen by Karl-Anthony Towns  
4:32   Jimmy Butler missed fade-away jump shot  
4:30   Offensive rebound by Taj Gibson  
4:22 +2 Jeff Teague made floating jump shot 68-75
4:10   Shooting foul on Andrew Wiggins  
4:10 +1 James Harden made 1st of 2 free throws 69-75
4:10 +1 James Harden made 2nd of 2 free throws 70-75
3:52 +2 Tyus Jones made jump shot, assist by Jimmy Butler 70-77
3:29   James Harden missed 3-pt. jump shot  
3:29   Team rebound  
3:13   Bad pass turnover on Jimmy Butler, stolen by Ryan Anderson  
3:08 +2 Nene made driving dunk, assist by James Harden 72-77
2:45 +2 Andrew Wiggins made floating jump shot 72-79
2:31   Eric Gordon missed jump shot  
2:28   Defensive rebound by Jimmy Butler  
2:13