It took a little luster off the Timberwolves final home game of the season, leaving the 19,356 fans who packed into a sold out Target Center Tuesday waiting to see what the team’s brand-new logo would look like and whether the Wolves would wind down a disappointing season with a winning home record.
The verdict: The logo, unveiled at halftime, looked pretty good.
Down 22 early in the second quarter, the Wolves rallied to take a one-point lead into the fourth.
But the combination of porous defense and a striking lack of rebounding translated into the short-handed Thunder winning 100-98.
Four of the five Thunder starters scored in double figures, with Domantas Sabonis scoring 19 and Victor Oladipo scoring 20, the last two on a 21-foot jumper with 6.3 seconds left that broke a 98-all tie.
The Wolves were led by Karl-Anthony Towns’ 26 points and 12 rebounds. Andrew Wiggins had 18, Gorgui Dieng had 19, including a corner shot with 44 seconds left that put the Wolves up a point.
At the other end Norris Cole hit one of two free throws with 43.4 seconds left to tie the game.
Out of a time out Towns missed, setting up Oladipo for the game-winner.
Had the Wolves held on to win, it would have been the biggest comeback of the season for the Wolves. Instead it was a fifth straight loss, one that put the Wolves home record at 20-21.
Up one entering the fourth quarter, the Wolves found themselves down five after a short Thunder run. Over the final 4-plus minutes the Wolves fought back. To within three on two Rubio free throws with 4:10 left. To within one on Towns’ three-pointer.
With 44 seconds left and the shot clock winding down, Dieng took a pass from Rubio and hit a corner shot to put the Wolves up 98-97.
It was the Wolves’ last lead.
Things were pretty ugly early. The Wolves held a 10-9 lead with 7:46 left in the first quarter over the next 9-plus minutes the Thunder went on a 29-6 run, one that put them up 38-16 on Jerami Grant’s basket 87 seconds into the second quarter.
It was a first quarter in which six Thunder players scored, Oklahoma City shot 52.2 percent while the Wolves made just six of 19 shots while matching a season-low with 16 first-quarter points. That Thunder lead grew to as big as 22 early in the second before the Wolves found some equilibrium. Down 18 late in the first half, the Wolves ended it on an 8-3 run, pulling within 56-43 on Gorgui Dieng’s corner jumper.
That was the start of what turned out to be a quarter-long run. With Wiggins getting on track – he had eight third-quarter points and Dieng scoring nine, the Wolves pulled into a 62-62 tie on Rubio’s basket, capping a 23-6 run.
Later in the quarter, with the game tied 67-67, Omri Casspi hit a wide-open three-pointer to give the Wolves their first lead since the first quarter; Minnesota led 72-71 entering the fourth after out-scoring Oklahoma City 29-15 in the third.
• With a shot off the glass with 7:46 left in the first quarter Tuesday, Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns passed Kevin Love to become the biggest single-season scorer in franchise history. Towns started the game needing four points to pass Love, who scored 2,010 points in the 2013-14 season.
• With Westbrook sitting Tuesday, the list of NBA iron men shrunk. Towns, Dieng and Wiggins have now played in every game this season three of the five in the league who can say that. The other two are Indiana’s Jeff Teague and Washington’s Marcin Gortat.
• So, you can take Westbrook’s name off the list of players who have played in every game this season. As of this minute, there are six players who have played in every game for their team.
Westbrook will break that streak tonight, leaving five – Karl-Anthony Towns, Gorgui Dieng and Andrew Wiggins of the Wolves, Indiana’s Jeff Teague and Washington’s Marcin Gortat. The Wolves have had at least one player play in every game the past three seasons. Wiggins did it in his rookie season and Towns did it last year.
• This was the Wolves’ first sellout in a regular season finale since 1998.