Timberwolves dominate Thunder 120-95, earn No. 8 seed in West

The Minnesota Timberwolves are headed back to the NBA Playoffs in consecutive years for the first time in nearly 20 years.

After falling to the L.A. Lakers 108-102 in overtime Tuesday night, the Timberwolves got one more chance to keep their season alive Friday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. They did that, and then some. The Timberwolves dominated the final three quarters and had six players score in double figures in beating the Thunder 120-95 to advance out of the NBA Play-In Tournament.

The Timberwolves have not been a playoff team in consecutive seasons since Kevin Garnett led them to the Western Conference Finals in 2004, a span of 19 years.

The Timberwolves earned the No. 8 seed in the West, and will head to Denver on Sunday. Karl-Anthony Towns had 28 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots. Rudy Gobert had 21 points, 10 rebounds and two assists. Anthony Edwards did a little bit of everything, with 19 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two steals in 39 minutes.

The Timberwolves led 57-47 at the half, and a team that’s seen double-digit leads slip away so many other times put its foot on the Thunder’s throat in the second half. At one point in the fourth quarter, Minnesota had a 29-point lead. The Timberwolves’ size was too much for the Thunder Friday. They out-scored Oklahoma City 58-30 in the paint.

"Defense was phenomenal, we executed everything we talked about doing. It was nice not to give back a lead, which we’ve done quite a bit. The guys were super locked in and they knew what it was going to take to win," Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said after the win.

The Timberwolves’ defense held Oklahoma City’s two best offensive players, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey, in check. The two combined for 28 points, but shot just 7-for-32 from the field. The Thunder shot just 36 percent from the field for the game, and 32,5 percent from the perimeter.

The week started with Gobert suspended for the Lakers’ loss after punching teammate Kyle Anderson. Was it the best thing that could’ve happened to the Timberwolves? They played with an energy and intensity that we haven’t seen much this season.

Their reward is a date with the Denver Nuggets on Sunday. In the final minutes of regulation Friday, Timberwolves fans were chanting "We Want Denver!"

If the Timberwolves can keep playing like they did Friday, they can give the Nuggets problems.