Late foul shots help Thunder fend off Wolves
OKLAHOMA CITY—The Oklahoma City Thunder's troublesome trend of letting second-half leads disappear looked like it was going to show itself again.
The Minnesota Timberwolves cut a double-digit Thunder lead to one possession with less than a minute to play, but Paul George hit two free throws with 5.2 seconds to play as the Thunder (9-12) closed out a 111-107 win Friday night, Dec. 1, at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
George had 36 points and Oklahoma City center Steven Adams had 27.
Andrew Wiggins' 3-pointer with 9.8 seconds to go had Minnesota (13-10) as close as it had been since the first quarter, but unlike the Timberwolves' last trip to Oklahoma City—when Wiggins banked in a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer — the Thunder put this one out of reach.
It looked like Thunder star Russell Westbrook was ready to take over in the final minutes.
He drove for a tough layup with 2:10 to go, putting the Thunder up 103-98. He answered a pair of Wiggins free throws with two of his own to put the lead back at five with just over a minute to go.
Adams, plagued by foul trouble in the second half, grabbed an offensive rebound of a Westbrook miss and put it in with 26.2 seconds to go.
With Wiggins and Jimmy Butler scoring quickly for Minnesota, the Thunder kept finding ways to maintain a small cushion.
Oklahoma City built a 64-54 halftime lead behind 17 points from Adams and 15 from George. Butler led Minnesota with 11 at the half.
The Thunder survived the third quarter, which has been problematic for Oklahoma City this season, particularly when in the lead. Karl-Anthony Towns helped Minnesota cut into the advantage, but Oklahoma City remained in control, up 85-79 starting the fourth quarter.
NOTES: Oklahoma City snapped a three-game losing streak and has won two of its last seven games, the other against Golden State. ... OKC scored 42 first-quarter points, its most in the opening quarter all season. ... Thunder G Andre Roberson and Timberwolves F Karl-Anthony Towns collided forehead-to-forehead just over three minutes into the game. Both players required stitches and returned later in the half. ... Minnesota F Taj Gibson faced Oklahoma City for the second time this season. He played 23 games for the Thunder last season after being traded from Chicago, but opted not to re-sign with Oklahoma City in the offseason.