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The Timberwolves' Cool Youths Mushed The Thunder

Photo credit: Sue Ogrocki/AP

When Carmelo Anthony’s high-arcing three from the left wing splashed in, to give his Oklahoma City Thunder a 113-112 fourth-quarter lead over the Timberwolves last night, it also left just under five seconds on the game clock. Time enough for Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins to do this:

Video via NBA/YouTube

Wait, here is an even cooler look at it, via Michael Lee on Twitter:


That’s the good shit. I urge you to go back up to the video above, though, and soak in Karl-Anthony Towns’s wonderful, joyous reaction when the shot goes in, how he gets so excited he doesn’t know what to do with himself and just smacks the crap out of the ball for no reason before turning and running away. I have watched it like 900 times this morning and have only enjoyed it more each time.

It was a fantastic cap to a terrific quarter for Wiggins, Minnesota’s 22-year-old wing. Including the dagger to win it, he scored 12 points on six shot attempts in the period, and seven of the team’s nine points in the final two minutes. Here’s a gorgeous spinning layup he created for himself against a double-team (give an assist to Melo’s hilariously ineffectual rim protection) with 1:43 to go and the Thunder having just cut the lead to one:

GIF via YouTube

(He threw up an airball on an absurd turnaround jumper about 40 seconds later, but, c’mon, he’s 22, dammit!)

Wiggins wasn’t the only young, ridiculously gifted Timberwolf to come through in the final moments last night. Minnesota’s only non-Wiggins bucket in the last two minutes, as they worked like hell to fend off the star-powered Thunder, came via a teardrop floater tossed in by Towns to redeem a busted possession with only nine seconds left:

GIF via YouTube

What made this play, other than Towns being the extraordinarily rare seven-footer who can take two hard dribbles and put up and make a soft floater like this without committing 25 charges and dribbling the ball off both of his feet, is all the work he has done to make himself a credible three-point threat. He’d hit two from beyond the arc earlier in the game. Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams had to close out hard when Towns darted out to the corner, and the hard closeout is what opened up the space for a drive and a closer look at the hoop. What I am getting at here is, this is a Steph Curry bucket! By a 21-year-old center!

It was one game, yeah, but it was also a glimpse of what’s possible, and why the Timberwolves were able to attract veterans of consequence over the summer—why, for example, they were on Kyrie Irving’s list of acceptable trade destinations. Beyond the 54 combined points (27 apiece) on absurd 21-for-37 shooting, Minnesota’s cool youths traded haymakers with some of the sport’s biggest stars, on the road, and when it counted sure looked, well, if not quite like the two best players on the court, then just as good as whichever two more established stars you want to give that designation. I’m sure they’ll play like green doofuses again sometime soon, just as I’m sure some Western Conference playoff teams dearly hope so.

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