The Oklahoma City Thunder took down the Minnesota Timberwolves 135-128 in Minneapolis on Saturday night, improving to 10-13 on the year.
In the absence of all-star big man Karl-Anthony Towns, D'Angelo Russell gave Oklahoma City problems all night, scoring 27 points and dishing out six assists. For the Thunder, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's 33 points marked his sixth consecutive 30-point performance. The fifth-year guard also tallied six assists and three steals.
The Thunder jumped out to a 24-15 lead behind a strong start from Gilgeous-Alexander, who was able to get to the line with ease. The Wolves stormed back, however, going on a 9-0 run to tie the game at 24.
Later in the first quarter, rookie wing Ousmane Dieng stole the ball from veteran guard Austin Rivers and sprinted down the court before tossing a lob to Darius Bazley, who finished the play to give Oklahoma City a three-point lead.
At the end of the first quarter, Gilgeous-Alexander had 13 points, nine of them coming at the free throw line. OKC held a 32-29 advantage heading into the second period.
Veteran wing Kenrich Williams scored the Thunder's first five points in the second quarter, knocking down a 3-pointer and taking the ball to the basket.
After the TCU product finished a layup over all-star big man Rudy Gobert, Williams and Gobert fell to the ground. As Williams was getting to his feet, Gobert attempted to trip the Thunder wing, sparking an altercation that was quickly broken up.
After a lengthy review, Gobert was ejected, and Williams was assessed a technical foul for shoving Gobert. The Wolves shot one free throw, and the Thunder shot two free throws and inbounded the ball as a result of the play.
After all the dust cleared, Oklahoma City led 38-31 early in the second quarter.
With SGA on the bench, Williams continued to lead the Thunder, doing a bit of everything for OKC. The 6-foot-7 wing backed down a defender and scored in the paint, then drew a charge on defense followed by a nice drive and dump-off pass to Jeremiah Robinson-Earl for an easy basket.
After Williams' impressive stretch, the Thunder led 47-36. Minnesota would not go away though, embarking on a 10-0 run that would give the Wolves their first lead of the game.
OKC swiftly regained an advantage. A quick 3-pointer from Tre Mann and a layup from Aleksej Pokusevski followed by a contested finish inside from Lu Dort gave Oklahoma City a 55-48 lead late in the first half.
At halftime, OKC held a 63-57 advantage over Minnesota, led by 15 points from Gilgeous-Alexander.
The second half began with a technical free throw from D'Angelo Russell after a technical foul was assessed on Dort heading into the half. Wolves forward Jaden McDaniels was called for a shooting foul on Robinson-Earl on the ensuing Thunder possession and was also assessed a technical foul after expressing his frustration with the call.
An 11-0 run by Minnesota gave the Wolves a 71-69 lead with less than nine minutes left to play in the third quarter. Minnesota continued to slowly extended their lead, heading into the final frame with a 101-97 advantage.
After a Wolves score, the Thunder opened the fourth quarter with back-to-back triples from Jalen and Kenrich Williams, tying the game at 103. Later in the quarter, OKC went on a 12-0 run to give Oklahoma City a nine-point lead with Gilgeous-Alexander still on the sideline.
A few possessions later, Wolves wing Anthony Edwards was called for a charge on Jalen Williams while taking the ball to the rim. Minnesota Head Coach Chris Finch challenged the call, but was unsuccessful.
Edwards took exception with the determination and was assessed a technical foul, giving Tre Mann a free throw and the Thunder possession of the ball. This aided a 22-5 run by Oklahoma City that helped give them a 125-113 lead with less than four minutes left in the contest.
OKC would hold onto the lead, eventually topping Minnesota 135-128. The Thunder return to action on Monday, December 5 at 6:30 P.M., taking on the Hawks in Atlanta.