Small sample size, sure, but the Minnesota Timberwolves already look like the team hoops fans hoped for.
Minnesota's 2-1 on the season, its lone loss an eight-point defeat in San Antonio on opening night. Since then, the T-Wolves have played twice in the Target Center, beating Utah (100-97) and Oklahoma City (115-113), both playoff teams last season, and both the kind of tight games Minnesota (and its fans) had gotten used to losing.
Sunday's thriller over Oklahoma City was an instant classic, thanks to its ending. If you follow the sport even loosely, you've seen it by now.
How about one more time? What could it hurt?
Thing is, Wolves fans haven't been the only ones watching Andrew Wiggins' running buzzer beater over and over again. The NBA's in-house officiating crew took a few more looks, too. And they say it should never have counted.
The "last two minute report" issued Monday spots not one, but two missed calls in those frantic finals moments. First, in the instant Carmelo Anthony hit the go-ahead 3-pointer to put OKC up by one, Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau can be seen momentarily signaling for a timeout.
Only, Minnesota didn't have any left. Had an official seen or heard Thibodeau, the Timberwolves would have been assessed a technical foul, giving the Thunder a free throw and the ball back.
Spared that humiliating outcome, Minnesota improvised. Taj Gibson inbounded the ball to Andrew Wiggins, who dribbled once, then crossed over, sending his defender, Paul George, right into a midcourt screen set by Karl-Anthony Towns. The pick dropped George, and Wiggins dribbled on for a deep-but-open three... which banked right in.
The NBA nitpickers say Wiggins' charge should have been whistled dead before he'd crossed half-court. As the "two minute report" finds:
"Multiple angles show Towns (MIN) establishes a screening position in George’s (OKC) path before the contact and he absorbs the contact when it occurs. However, his stance is wide and contact occurs to his leg area, which makes the screen illegal."
Yeah, well, so... what're you gonna do about it? Huh?
The Timberwolves travel to Indiana for their fourth game of the season Tuesday night. As for the Thunder, they (it?) will have to wait more than a month for a shot at revenge: Minnesota travels to Oklahoma City for a road game December 1.
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