DEN
MIN

No Text

Butler's 39 points lift Wolves past Nuggets, 128-125 in OT

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Jimmy Butler played the type of game Tom Thibodeau was thinking about when he brought the veteran guard to Minnesota in the offseason.

Butler scored 12 of Minnesota's 14 points in overtime and finished with a season-high 39 to lift the Timberwolves to a 128-125 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.

Thibodeau, Minnesota's coach and president of basketball operations, gave up a first-round draft pick and two players - both former first-round picks - to acquire the Olympian and three-time All-Star from Chicago, where Thibodeau coached him from 2011-15.

''He's got an unbelievable will to win, and that's what makes him so special,'' Thibodeau said. ''When his best is needed, he's always at his best. Always been that way, and that's not going to change.''

Butler scored Minnesota's first 11 points in overtime. Then with the game tied 125-all and 50 seconds to go, he drove to the basket again before kicking it out to Jamal Crawford, who drained the go-ahead 18-foot jump shot.

''I really was going to shoot the ball, I won't lie to you,'' Butler said. ''But if Jamal screams `Jimmy! Jimmy! Jimmy!' three times, that means pass it to him, he's open. He did what he's done for us all year: make some shots.''

After the Nuggets missed on the other end, Butler skied for the defensive rebound, brought the ball down the court and drew a foul. He hit one of two free throws, and Denver's Trey Lyles missed a desperation 3-point attempt at the buzzer to help Minnesota hang on after blowing a 19-point lead.

''That's an All-Star. He showed his worth right there,'' said Lyles, who finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds. ''He done it to us in the earlier game, too, and when a guy gets going like that it's tough to stop him, and kudos to him. We kind of threw everything we had at him, and he was able to take it and still finish.''

Will Barton scored 28 points and Nikola Jokic had 22 for the Nuggets, whose three-game winning streak ended.

Andrew Wiggins made five 3-pointers and scored 21 points for Minnesota, which won its fifth straight. Taj Gibson added 20 points, and Karl-Anthony Towns had 14 points and 13 rebounds.

The Wolves played the overtime period without Towns, who fouled out late in the fourth quarter, and point guard Jeff Teague, who limped off the court in the final 20 seconds with what appeared to be a left leg injury. Gibson fouled out on Denver's first possession in overtime, leaving the Wolves without three starters for the game's most crucial stretch. But as long as one of them was Butler, they were in fine shape.

''I hope everyone's recognizing how special he is,'' Thibodeau said. ''He's changed everything for us. Big play after big play. Guards everyone. Hustle plays. Tough rebounds. In traffic. Passes, shots, free throws. Everything.''

Minnesota led by as many as 19 points and was ahead 109-100 after Wiggins' four-point player with just under three minutes to play in regulation. But Denver stormed back and Barton hit a pair of free throws to send the game to overtime tied at 114.

''Down 19 points, second half, second night of a back-to-back, we could've very easily have folded and just rolled over,'' Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. ''I loved the fact that our guys never did that. We competed.''

TIP-INS

Nuggets: Lyles has scored in double digits in Denver's last seven games. ... The Nuggets are 2-4 on the back end of back-to-backs this year. After beating Utah on Tuesday, they are 5-1 on the front end. ... Denver had held its previous three opponents below 86 points, its longest such streak since 2012.

Timberwolves: F Nemanja Bjelica played his second straight game after missing the previous 15 with a sprained foot. He finished with one point and three rebounds in 10 minutes. ... Minnesota's 71-point first half was its highest-scoring half this season. ... Minnesota improved to 19-6 against the Western Conference and 7-1 against the Northwest Division.

GOING DEEP

The Timberwolves came into the game 29th in the NBA in 3-pointers made per game at 8.1, but they already had nine (on 18 attempts) by halftime and finished the night 12 for 29 from beyond the arc. They made their first five 3-pointers on consecutive shots by Towns, Teague, Wiggins (twice) and Butler to build an early lead.

That included a 4-for-4 start by Wiggins, a 30 percent 3-point shooter on the season who had made just 13 of 50 3-pointers in December going into Wednesday's game. His five on the night were the most for any Timberwolf this season.

UP NEXT

Nuggets: Host Philadelphia on Saturday.

Timberwolves: At Milwaukee on Thursday.

---

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

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

Key Players
N. Jokic
15 C
K. Towns
32 C
35.9 Min. Per Game 35.9
20.5 Pts. Per Game 20.5
1.9 Ast. Per Game 1.9
11.6 Reb. Per Game 11.6
51.1 Field Goal % 52.8
51.1 Three Point % 53.0
87.6 Free Throw % 83.1
  Defensive rebound by Gorgui Dieng 0:00
  Trey Lyles missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:00
  Defensive rebound by Will Barton 0:14
  Jimmy Butler missed 2nd of 2 free throws 0:16
+ 1 Jimmy Butler made 1st of 2 free throws 0:16
  Personal foul on Trey Lyles 0:16
  Defensive rebound by Jimmy Butler 0:35
  Jamal Murray missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:39
+ 2 Jamal Crawford made jump shot, assist by Jimmy Butler 0:47
+ 1 Nikola Jokic made 2nd of 2 free throws 1:06
+ 1 Nikola Jokic made 1st of 2 free throws 1:06
Team Stats
Points 125 128
Field Goals 42-91 (46.2%) 47-90 (52.2%)
3-Pointers 15-39 (38.5%) 12-29 (41.4%)
Free Throws 26-31 (83.9%) 22-30 (73.3%)
Total Rebounds 55 50
Offensive 11 7
Defensive 37 35
Team 7 8
Assists 26 27
Steals 3 4
Blocks 2 7
Turnovers 9 6
Fouls 24 26
Technicals 0 0
21 PTS, 7 REB, 8 AST
39 PTS, 4 REB, 5 AST
1234OTT
away team logo Nuggets 19-16 2335243211125
home team logo Timberwolves 22-13 3536172614128
Team Stats
away team logo Nuggets 19-16 PPG RPG APG
home team logo Timberwolves 22-13 101.6 PPG 45.2 RPG 22.4 APG
Key Players
W. Barton SG PPG RPG APG FG%
J. Butler SG 15.8 PPG 6.0 RPG 4.0 APG 44.4 FG%
Top Scorers
W. Barton SG 28 PTS 3 REB 5 AST
J. Butler SG 39 PTS 4 REB 5 AST
46.2 FG% 52.2
38.5 3PT FG% 41.4
83.9 FT% 73.3
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
N. Jokic 41 22 9 4 2 1 2 3 5/11 1/3 11/12 1 8 40 +1
J. Murray 46 21 7 8 0 0 1 2 8/20 2/9 3/3 1 6 43 -1
M. Plumlee 25 11 8 1 0 0 1 1 4/8 0/0 3/6 4 4 20 -5
G. Harris 41 10 3 6 0 0 1 3 3/10 2/6 2/2 1 2 24 -5
W. Chandler 29 8 5 1 1 0 2 4 3/8 2/4 0/0 2 3 14 -11
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
N. Jokic 41 22 9 4 2 1 2 3 5/11 1/3 11/12 1 8 40 +1
J. Murray 46 21 7 8 0 0 1 2 8/20 2/9 3/3 1 6 43 -1
M. Plumlee 25 11 8 1 0 0 1 1 4/8 0/0 3/6 4 4 20 -5
G. Harris 41 10 3 6 0 0 1 3 3/10 2/6 2/2 1 2 24 -5
W. Chandler 29 8 5 1 1 0 2 4 3/8 2/4 0/0 2 3 14 -11
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
W. Barton 33 28 3 5 0 0 1 3 10/17 4/8 4/5 1 2 40 +9
T. Lyles 31 23 10 0 0 1 1 5 8/13 4/8 3/3 0 10 33 +7
T. Craig 10 2 2 1 0 0 0 2 1/3 0/1 0/0 1 1 6 -5
D. Arthur 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0/1 0/0 0/0 0 1 1 -5
P. Millsap - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
K. Faried - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
E. Mudiay - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Beasley - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Lydon - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Hernangomez - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
R. Jefferson - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Morris - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 260 125 48 26 3 2 9 24 42/91 15/39 26/31 11 37 221 -15
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Butler 42 39 4 5 1 0 1 0 10/20 3/6 16/18 0 4 53 +5
A. Wiggins 42 21 3 0 0 1 0 5 7/13 5/8 2/5 0 3 25 +8
T. Gibson 40 20 4 2 0 1 0 6 9/12 0/0 2/3 1 3 29 +3
K. Towns 30 14 13 6 0 4 3 6 6/12 2/3 0/0 4 9 40 +11
J. Teague 35 11 5 10 2 0 0 2 5/12 1/3 0/0 1 4 38 +5
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Butler 42 39 4 5 1 0 1 0 10/20 3/6 16/18 0 4 53 +5
A. Wiggins 42 21 3 0 0 1 0 5 7/13 5/8 2/5 0 3 25 +8
T. Gibson 40 20 4 2 0 1 0 6 9/12 0/0 2/3 1 3 29 +3
K. Towns 30 14 13 6 0 4 3 6 6/12 2/3 0/0 4 9 40 +11
J. Teague 35 11 5 10 2 0 0 2 5/12 1/3 0/0 1 4 38 +5
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Crawford 26 12 1 3 1 0 1 1 6/11 0/4 0/0 0 1 19 -4
G. Dieng 21 6 5 1 0 1 0 2 2/6 1/3 1/2 1 4 14 -11
T. Jones 15 4 4 0 0 0 1 2 2/3 0/1 0/0 0 4 7 -1
N. Bjelica 9 1 3 0 0 0 0 2 0/1 0/1 1/2 0 3 4 0
M. Georges-Hunt 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 -1
A. Brooks - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Aldrich - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Brown - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
S. Muhammad - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Patton - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 262 128 42 27 4 7 6 26 47/90 12/29 22/30 7 35 229 +15