Timberwolves beat Nuggets in OT to reach playoffs
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) ��� Jimmy Butler scored 31 points, Karl-Anthony Towns had 26 points and 14 rebounds and the Minnesota Timberwolves ended the NBA’s longest-running playoff drought, beating the Denver Nuggets 112-106 in overtime Wednesday night in the first final-day play-in game in the league in 21 years.
When the final horn blew, the capacity and white-towel-waving crowd at Target Center stood to soak in Minnesota’s first postseason appearance since 2004. Butler flashed a smile of relief as he hugged his teammates and confetti fluttered above the floor. The fans chanted “MVP! MVP!” as Butler conducted a postgame interview.
Jokic, locked in a classic big-man battle with Towns, finished with 35 points and 10 rebounds, but he missed six of his last eight shots after the third quarter as Denver’s late push fell a few points short.
The Timberwolves are moving on to play the NBA-best Houston Rockets in the first round.
Will Barton, who had 24 points, made a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock for Denver’s first lead, 104-103, since midway through the first quarter. After Taj Gibson hounded Jokic to force an air-balled 3-point try, Jeff Teague swished a floater with 1:19 left in overtime to put the Wolves back in front for good.
Andrew Wiggins sank two foul shots with 15 seconds remaining to finish with 18 points, and the Wolves were finally on their way to a celebration more than a decade in the making.
Westbrook entered the night needing 16 rebounds to clinch the triple-double average. He pulled down his 16th rebound with just over nine minutes left in the third quarter and received a standing ovation. He finished with just six points, but had a career-high 20 rebounds and 19 assists.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Joel Embiid and JJ Redick watched from the bench, Ben Simmons had a scoreless first half and Philadelphia still won its 16th consecutive game to take the No. 3 Eastern Conference seed.
Embiid wore a black mask during warmups to protect his broken bone around his left eye, then changed into gold sneakers and a peach-colored jacket to watch the Sixers romp to a stunning 80-44 lead at the break. Embiid said he will likely miss at least Game 1 of the playoffs this weekend because of the injury.
CLEVELAND (AP) – LeBron James played in his 82nd game, scored 10 points and then got some rest for the playoffs in Cleveland’s loss to New York in coach Jeff Hornacek’s likely last game with the Knicks.
James had never played every game in his 15-year NBA career. But he capped a remarkable season in which he seemed to break a record every night by adding another accomplishment to his long list of achievements. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said he tried to talk James out of playing, but he gave in and allowed the 33-year-old to extend his record of scoring in double digits to 873 consecutive games before taking him out. James finished with 10 points and five rebounds in 10:33.
Knicks rookie Luke Kornet scored a season-high 23 points.
Ellington finished with eight 3-pointers, giving him 227 for the season. He topped the mark set by Damon Jones, who made 225 in 2004-05. Kelly Olynyk, Dwyane Wade, Justise Winslow, James Johnson and Tyler Johnson each scored 11 points for the Heat.
Kyle Lowry scored 28 points for Toronto, which already had the top seed in the East wrapped up.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Anthony Davis had 22 points, 15 rebounds, four blocks and three steals, and New Orleans assured itself no worse than the sixth seed in the Western Conference.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker and Dejounte Murray each scored 11 points for San Antonio.
Jodie Meeks came off the bench to score 18 points for Washington. They lost five of their last six games to take the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
KINGS 96, ROCKETS 83
With Houston (65-17) already having wrapped up the best record in the NBA, coach Mike D’Antoni opted to rest most of his top players, including starters James Harden, Chris Paul, Trevor Ariza and Clint Capela. The top-seeded Rockets will open the playoffs at home this weekend against Minnesota.
The Kings took advantage of Houston’s depleted lineup and ended another disappointing season off by snapping a seven-game skid against the Rockets. Sacramento finished with a 27-55 record in coach Dave Joerger’s second season, its worst mark since going 24-58 in 2010-11.
Gerald Green scored 31 points to lead the Rockets.
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Jason Hart set career highs with 30 points and seven 3-pointers, and the Lakers closed out a fifth consecutive season without a playoff berth.
Gary Payton II added a career-best 25 points off the bench as the Lakers beat their Staples Center co-tenant for the first time since April 4, 2012, as the visiting team. They went 35-47 under second-year coach Luke Walton.
Tobias Harris led the Clippers with 23 points. They ended the season with four straight losses, and finished with a 42-40 record although their streak of consecutive playoff appearances ended at six.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Damian Lillard had 36 points and 10 assists and the Trail Blazers snapped a four-game losing streak to earn the Northwest Division title. With the win in the regular-season finale, Portland claimed the third seed in the Western Conference and will play sixth-seeded New Orleans in the opening round of the playoffs.
- Boston Celtics
- Denver Nuggets
- Houston Rockets
- Miami Heat
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Philadelphia 76ers