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Towns has 33 and 19 as Timberwolves hold off Thunder 119-116

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) When Jimmy Butler was sidelined for two games with an upper respiratory infection, the Minnesota Timberwolves lacked energy and struggled on defense. The end result was a pair of losses by an average of 22 points.

In Butler's return Friday night against Oklahoma City, it was evident just how different a team Minnesota is with him on the court.

Butler scored 13 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and helped the Timberwolves hold on for a 119-116 win over the Thunder. His veteran leadership was felt on both ends of the floor for Minnesota, which improved to 3-2.

''He makes a big difference,'' Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. ''Just having his presence - he's a great leader, does the right things on the floor.''

Karl-Anthony Towns had 33 points and 19 rebounds to lead Minnesota. Towns also had arguably his best defensive game of the young season, posting a season-high four blocks.

While Towns and other Timberwolves fed off Butler's energy, Butler did what he could at both ends to keep the Thunder at bay in the final minutes. He scored nine points in the final 4:09 to help the Wolves close it out. He also played a team-high 38 minutes in his return from illness.

''I just wanted to win, man,'' Butler said. ''These guys out there with me, they just played so incredibly hard. When we're playing like that, we look really good, we feel really good, and we end up winning games.''

Russell Westbrook led the way for Oklahoma City with 27 points. He had nine assists and eight rebounds, falling just shy of a triple-double. Carmelo Anthony added 23 points for the Thunder.

It was the second time in a week the Timberwolves edged the Thunder in a close game. Minnesota won Sunday in Oklahoma City on a buzzer-beater by Andrew Wiggins.

This time, Anthony's 3-point attempt to tie it at the end of regulation was no good.

''Obviously, they're a very talented team and we've got a talented team as well,'' Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. ''Both games have been hard-fought.''

Minnesota point guard Jeff Teague had 16 points and 10 assists for his first double-double of the season. Teague hit a free throw with 12.4 seconds to play, giving the Wolves a three-point lead.

Minnesota overcame an 11-point deficit to enter halftime with the game tied at 59. A three-point play by Towns put the Wolves up two with just under a minute to play in the half.

There were 31 lead changes in all, and the game was tied 15 times.

Anthony couldn't miss from the floor in the second quarter, scoring the Thunder's first nine points of the period on several long jumpers.

The Timberwolves used an 8-0 run in the third to go ahead 83-78. Towns and Taj Gibson each had four points during that stretch, which was capped by Gibson's dunk in transition.

The win helped Minnesota move past a pair of blowout losses to Indiana and Detroit.

''We got humbled the last few games,'' Gibson said. ''You just saw a completely different team today.''

TIP-INS

Thunder: Steven Adams scored the Thunder's first eight points after halftime, including a pair of free throws and an alley-oop dunk. . Oklahoma City entered with the worst free throw percentage in the NBA (67.5 percent), but was 22 of 25 from the line against Minnesota.

Timberwolves: Wiggins shot 5 of 15 from the floor. . C Gorgui Dieng hit a long 2-point shot that beat the buzzer to end the third quarter. That gave Minnesota a 90-89 lead to start the fourth.

ANTHONY GETS LAST LOOK

Westbrook has often been the one to take the last shot for the Thunder, but he deferred to Anthony late in this game. With Oklahoma City trailing by three, it was Anthony who had a look at a potential tying 3-pointer.

His shot in the final seconds was no good and Minnesota grabbed the rebound to seal it.

''We had to push the ball at that point in time and I think Russell was just surveying the field and trying to find a way maybe to get Carmelo trailing a little bit there,'' Donovan said. ''I'll see the film, but I do think that Russell is going to try in those situations to get the best shot, and if he can get Carmelo a shot, I think he's going to try to generate a shot for him.''

UP NEXT

Thunder: At Chicago on Saturday night.

Timberwolves: At Miami on Monday night.

Copyright 2017 by STATS. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS is strictly prohibited.

Key Players
R. Westbrook
0 G
K. Towns
32 C
33.8 Min. Per Game 33.8
23.2 Pts. Per Game 23.2
1.2 Ast. Per Game 1.2
10.4 Reb. Per Game 10.4
49.4 Field Goal % 57.4
47.1 Three Point % 58.0
61.1 Free Throw % 90.0
  Defensive rebound by Jimmy Butler 0:00
  Carmelo Anthony missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:03
  Defensive rebound by Paul George 0:08
  Jeff Teague missed 2nd of 2 free throws 0:12
+ 1 Jeff Teague made 1st of 2 free throws 0:12
  Personal foul on Russell Westbrook 0:12
  Personal foul on Carmelo Anthony 0:15
+ 2 Russell Westbrook made driving layup 0:20
  Backcourt turnover on Jeff Teague 0:26
  Defensive rebound by Karl-Anthony Towns 0:40
  Patrick Patterson missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:43
Team Stats
Points 116 119
Field Goals 43-86 (50.0%) 42-86 (48.8%)
3-Pointers 8-28 (28.6%) 8-22 (36.4%)
Free Throws 22-25 (88.0%) 27-35 (77.1%)
Total Rebounds 43 55
Offensive 11 17
Defensive 24 27
Team 8 11
Assists 19 23
Steals 8 5
Blocks 9 7
Turnovers 14 15
Fouls 29 21
Technicals 0 0
27 PTS, 8 REB, 9 AST
33 PTS, 19 REB
1234T
away team logo Thunder 2-3 33263027116
home team logo Timberwolves 3-3 26333129119
Team Stats
away team logo Thunder 2-3 101.2 PPG 44 RPG 16.3 APG
home team logo Timberwolves 3-3 101.6 PPG 45.2 RPG 22.4 APG
Key Players
R. Westbrook G 25.4 PPG 10.1 RPG 10.3 APG 44.9 FG%
K. Towns C 21.3 PPG 12.3 RPG 2.4 APG 54.5 FG%
Top Scorers
R. Westbrook G 27 PTS 8 REB 9 AST
K. Towns C 33 PTS 19 REB 0 AST
50.0 FG% 48.8
28.6 3PT FG% 36.4
88.0 FT% 77.1
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
R. Westbrook 36 27 8 9 2 0 8 5 10/18 1/3 6/8 1 7 47 -13
P. George 38 23 5 4 2 1 2 4 8/16 3/6 4/4 2 3 37 -5
C. Anthony 36 23 2 2 1 1 1 4 8/15 1/5 6/7 0 2 30 -7
S. Adams 31 20 8 1 0 1 2 4 8/10 0/0 4/4 6 2 29 -17
A. Roberson 9 4 3 0 0 1 1 1 2/6 0/1 0/0 2 1 7 -1
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
R. Westbrook 36 27 8 9 2 0 8 5 10/18 1/3 6/8 1 7 47 -13
P. George 38 23 5 4 2 1 2 4 8/16 3/6 4/4 2 3 37 -5
C. Anthony 36 23 2 2 1 1 1 4 8/15 1/5 6/7 0 2 30 -7
S. Adams 31 20 8 1 0 1 2 4 8/10 0/0 4/4 6 2 29 -17
A. Roberson 9 4 3 0 0 1 1 1 2/6 0/1 0/0 2 1 7 -1
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
R. Felton 13 7 1 1 1 0 0 0 3/4 1/2 0/0 0 1 11 +13
J. Grant 27 6 2 1 1 3 0 2 2/6 0/2 2/2 0 2 14 -13
P. Patterson 18 3 3 1 0 1 0 0 1/4 1/3 0/0 0 3 9 +15
J. Huestis 15 3 3 0 0 1 0 3 1/5 1/4 0/0 0 3 7 0
A. Abrines 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0/1 0/1 0/0 0 0 0 +11
T. Ferguson 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 0/1 0/1 0/0 0 0 1 +2
K. Singler - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Johnson - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
P. Dozier - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Hamilton - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
N. Collison - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 233 116 35 19 8 9 14 29 43/86 8/28 22/25 11 24 192 -15
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
K. Towns 36 33 19 0 0 4 1 4 12/24 1/4 8/9 7 12 55 +17
J. Butler 38 25 5 7 0 0 1 1 7/10 0/0 11/13 2 3 43 +11
J. Teague 37 17 4 10 1 0 6 3 5/10 2/5 5/8 2 2 36 +12
T. Gibson 36 16 8 3 2 1 2 3 8/12 0/1 0/0 5 3 31 +6
A. Wiggins 36 14 3 1 2 2 1 3 5/15 3/7 1/3 0 3 22 +8
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
K. Towns 36 33 19 0 0 4 1 4 12/24 1/4 8/9 7 12 55 +17
J. Butler 38 25 5 7 0 0 1 1 7/10 0/0 11/13 2 3 43 +11
J. Teague 37 17 4 10 1 0 6 3 5/10 2/5 5/8 2 2 36 +12
T. Gibson 36 16 8 3 2 1 2 3 8/12 0/1 0/0 5 3 31 +6
A. Wiggins 36 14 3 1 2 2 1 3 5/15 3/7 1/3 0 3 22 +8
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
G. Dieng 11 6 2 0 0 0 0 5 2/3 0/0 2/2 1 1 8 -14
J. Crawford 13 5 0 0 0 0 2 1 2/7 1/3 0/0 0 0 3 -7
N. Bjelica 7 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1/1 1/1 0/0 0 1 4 -4
S. Muhammad 11 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0/2 0/0 0/0 0 1 1 -5
T. Jones 10 0 1 2 0 0 2 0 0/2 0/1 0/0 0 1 3 -9
M. Georges-Hunt 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 0
A. Brooks - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Aldrich - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Patton - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 236 119 44 23 5 7 15 21 42/86 8/22 27/35 17 27 206 +15