OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)D’Angelo Russell had 27 points and 12 assists and the Minnesota Timberwolves routed the Oklahoma City Thunder 135-105 on Friday night for their third straight victory.
Russell made 11 of 12 field goals and 4 of 5 3-pointers.
”He’s always a dangerous player,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said. ”What I love about tonight – his shot selection was really good. He just shot it when he was open and he just kept trusting it. He’s an outstanding shooter. One of the best ones in the league.”
Anthony Edwards scored 24 points and Karl-Anthony Towns added 19 for the Timberwolves.
Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault said the Thunder didn’t play with their usual defensive energy, but he gave Minnesota credit.
”You’ve got to tip your hat to the shot making, early in the game especially,” Daigneault said. ”And I thought offensively, we kind of kept pace with them. But we can’t expect to outscore that team. We’ve got to eventually get the defense into the game.”
The Timberwolves beat the Thunder for second time in three nights. Minnesota won 98-90 on Wednesday night in Minneapolis.
Lu Dort scored 18 points for the Thunder, who shot just 40% from the field in their third straight loss.
The Timberwolves held Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting. He had been averaging 22.6 points per contest.
”He’s a really, really good player, he’s a handful, he’s very shifty, got a lot of game,” Finch said. ”You’ve got to just be patient on him. We’ve got guys that kind of know him a little bit, and they have length, too. That combination I think is what allows us to kind of go back at him a little bit, and I thought our team defense behind the ball was pretty good tonight.”
Edwards hit all five of his 3-pointers and scored 17 points in the first quarter to help the Timberwolves take a 32-28 lead.
Minnesota shot 68% from the field in the first half to take a 73-57 lead at the break. It was the most points the Thunder have allowed in a first half this season. Russell scored 15 points in the second quarter to keep Minnesota rolling.
Towns, awakened by a hit to the nose by Oklahoma City’s Josh Giddey, dominated with 10 points and five rebounds in the third period. The Timberwolves led 103-80 heading into the fourth.
”Ant (Edwards) got us off to a great start,” Finch said. What we love about the way Ant’s playing right now is everything is really quick. It’s decisive, and you can kind of see the rhythm growing as he’s stepping into his shot. Then D-Lo (Russell) took over from there. Then KAT (Towns) kind of owned the third quarter for us. So it was really like one, two, three.”
Timberwolves: Guard Patrick Beverley was out with a sore right groin. … Russell’s 19 points in the first half were a season high. … Made 15 of 21 shots in the second quarter.
Thunder: It was Daigneault’s first game back since being out due to health and safety protocols. … Forward Isaiah Roby was out due to health and safety protocols. … Center Derrick Favors sat out with lower back soreness. … Forward Darius Bazley was called for a Flagrant 1 for a high elbow while setting a screen on Okogie. … Had a season-high 20 turnovers.
Oklahoma City rookie guard Aaron Wiggins is averaging 15.3 points and 5.6 rebounds in his past seven games – all as a starter after beginning the season on the bench. He has scored in double figures in all seven games while shooting 54% from the field.
Finch, on how Towns responded to being told at halftime to stay patient while dealing with extra defenders: ”He did a really good job on the glass just cleaning up. I was very pleased with KAT’s performance. He kind of let the game unfold for him, and then took it when it was there.”
Timberwolves: At Houston on Sunday night.
Thunder: Host Denver on Sunday night
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CliffBruntAP
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports