Karl-Anthony Towns had 28 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots and the Minnesota Timberwolves claimed the final Western Conference playoff spot with a 120-95 thumping of the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night in a play-in game.
Minnesota’s Rudy Gobert recorded 21 points and 10 rebounds in his first appearance since serving a one-game suspension for punching teammate Kyle Anderson during Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans. Anthony Edwards registered 19 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Timberwolves.
Minnesota will be the No. 8 seed in the West and will face the top-seeded Denver Nuggets in the first round. The series starts Sunday in Denver.
Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander endured a tough night while scoring 22 points. He was just 5-of-19 shooting and briefly left the game in the third quarter after Gobert’s elbow connected to the right side of his face and left a deep cut and swelling under the eye of the Thunder star.
Luguentz Dort and Jalen Williams each scored 17 points and made four 3-pointers for Oklahoma City.
Mike Conley added 14 points for Minnesota. Nickeil Alexander-Walker had 12 points and Anderson tallied 11 for the Timberwolves, who made 51.8 percent of their shots and were 13 of 32 from behind the arc.
Oklahoma City shot just 36 percent from the field, including 13 of 40 from 3-point range. Josh Giddey, who scored 31 points in a play-in win over the Pelicans on Wednesday, had just six points on 2-of-13 shooting.
Minnesota scored 38 points in the third quarter to expand a 10-point halftime advantage into a 95-78 lead.
Towns converted consecutive three-point plays as part of an 11-point quarter and Taurean Prince followed with a trey as the Timberwolves scored nine straight points to take a 79-62 lead with 4:56 remaining.
Isaiah Joe’s ferocious slam dunk brought Oklahoma City within 84-74 with 2:20 left in the period before Minnesota finished the quarter with an 11-4 burst. Edwards scored five points in a span of seven seconds during the run as the Timberwolves exerted control.
Minnesota kept up the assault and scored 14 of the first 16 points to start the fourth quarter. Gobert’s dunk on a pass from Anderson pushed the margin to 20 for the first time with 11:02 remaining, and Gobert’s slam on a pass from Towns capped the burst and made it 109-80 with 7:52 left.
Towns scored 15 points in the first half as the Timberwolves led 57-47 at the break. Williams had 14 in the half for Oklahoma City.
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