Timberwolves rally to beat Thunder 106-103, Anthony Edwards leaves with hip contusion

Anthony Edwards #5 of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Jaylin Williams #6 of the Oklahoma City Thunder compete for the rebound in the first quarter during an NBA In-Season Tournament game at Target Center on November 28, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. ((Photo by David Berding/Getty Images))

It was a battle between the top two teams in the Western Conference Tuesday night at Target Center as the Minnesota Timberwolves hosted the Oklahoma City Thunder.

It was the Wolves’ final game of the NBA’s In-Season Tournament. It was a homecoming for Minnesota native Chet Holmgren, a No. 1 draft pick by the Thunder who starred at Minnehaha Academy and Gonzaga. He played for the first time Tuesday as an NBA professional on the Target Center floor.

Thunder guard Josh Giddey got a chorus of boos every time he touched the ball as the NBA investigates him having an inappropriate relationship with a minor. There was plenty of energy in the building for a weeknight game, and after a slow start, the Timberwolves rallied for a 106-103 win over the Thunder.

The greater concern after the game is the health of star guard Anthony Edwards, who went high for a dunk attempt in the third quarter and fell hard on his right side. He left the court unable to put much weight on his right leg, then tried to stay in the game, but was in too much pain and went back to the locker room. A team already without Jaden McDaniels now faces the possibility of being without its best offensive player.

Edwards had 21 points and was 3-of-6 from the perimeter before having to leave the game. He returned to the bench in the fourth quarter, but was a spectator the rest of the night. Team officials say he suffered a hip contusion. Timberwolves' coach Chris Finch had no further update after the win.

"We were going to take a foul to get him out, then he said he thought he was fine. They didn’t take the foul, and a couple possessions later he took a foul to take himself out," Finch said. "I don’t know if he wrenched the hip or something, or it just flared up to the point where he realized he couldn’t go."

In his absence, Rudy Gobert led the Timberwolves with 17 points and 15 rebounds. Naz Reid and Troy Brown Jr. combined for 32 off the bench, and Karl-Anthony Towns had 11 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. Brown had the two biggest baskets of the night in the fourth quarter to lift the Timberwolves to the win, and made 1-of-2 at the free-throw line late.

"He’s been playing really well for us. This is a process where he’s kind of played himself into this game. But it was huge, just the hustle plays, the rebounds, obviously the shot-making was huge," Finch said. "Really love how he’s been playing for us all season. We needed a lift off the bench like that."

In his homecoming, Holmgren had 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists, but shot 6-of-20 from the field. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led Oklahoma City with 32 points, but missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would've sent the game to overtime.

Holmgren had several dozen friends and family at the game, many sporting his No. 7 jersey. His childhood home is just two miles from Target Center, and he grew up coming to Timberwolves games and playing pick-up basketball at the Lifetime Club in the building.

He was supposed to play that first game in the season-opener last year, but missed the entire season with a foot injury.

"Obviously it’s great having the people that support you and that have supported you for a long time at the game. Getting to see all the faces that you haven’t seen in a while, you’d always like to come out with a win in that situation, but it doesn’t lessen the impact or feeling that seeing everybody has," Holmgren said. "This is my first time playing at home in my home city, which is a blessing. There’s only 30 NBA cities in the world, and I was lucky enough to grow up in one of them. It’s obviously a cool moment, but the main focus is always on trying to win the game."

The Timberwolves improve to 13-4 and remain atop the Western Conference. They're 12-2 since Nov. 1 and finished 3-1 in group play for the In-Season Tournament, but were eliminated from the knockout stage due to point differential after losing to the Sacramento Kings.

Being the top team in the West is a nice consolation prize.