OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)The Minnesota Timberwolves took a positive step in getting comfortable with new center Rudy Gobert.
Anthony Edwards scored 30 points, and the Timberwolves beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 116-106 on Sunday night. Gobert had 15 points and 15 rebounds, while Karl-Anthony Towns – the team’s other 7-footer – added 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Minnesota is adjusting to the presence of Gobert, an All-Star center acquired in a trade with Utah this summer.
”The first unit, it’s still a work in progress, but it’s better,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said. ”I thought it was really good tonight. It’s just kind of — as we go through like, these different units and guys playing with Rudy, it’s all a learning curve for us right now.”
Gobert and Towns helped Minnesota outrebound Oklahoma City 54-42.
Edwards made 13 of 19 field goals and had 11 rebounds. He also scored 30 points in his previous game on Friday against Utah.
Lu Dort scored 20 points and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl added 15 for Oklahoma City, which dropped its home opener and fell to 0-3 for the season. The Thunder made just 9 of 41 3-pointers.
Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander sat out with a left hip contusion. He had averaged 30 points in his first two games. Guard Josh Giddey left the game with a sprained ankle and did not play in the fourth quarter.
The Timberwolves beat the Thunder 115-108 on Wednesday in the season opener for both teams. Gilgeous-Alexander scored 32 points that night.
In the quick rematch, Edwards scored 18 points in the first half to help Minnesota lead 53-44 at the break. The Timberwolves outrebounded the Thunder 30-15 in the first half.
Oklahoma City trimmed its deficit to 75-70 in the third quarter when Jaden McDaniels was called for a flagrant foul after a review. Oklahoma City’s Mike Muscala made two free throws, then he made a long 2-pointer to cut the Thunder deficit to a point.
”Something we preach to each other is, it’s a 48-minute game,” Robinson-Earl said. ”Regardless of what’s going on, we’re still going to play our way and on our terms.”
Minnesota closed the quarter on a 7-0 run to take an 82-74 edge into the fourth. The Timberwolves opened the final period on a 24-10 surge to take control for good.
”When you smell blood there, you’ve got to keep going, and credit them (the Timberwolves), they bounced back and went and got the game,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said.
Naz Reid, a reserve, scored all of his 14 points in the fourth quarter to help Minnesota pull away.
”I was going to try to bring Kat (Towns) and Rudy back at the same time and then try to finish the game there in the middle of the fourth,” Finch said. ”And Nas was great, so we didn’t have to do that.”
Minnesota made 36 of 54 2-pointers but just 10 of 34 3-pointers. Finch chose to see the positive in the imbalance.
”I think there’s more 3s to be found in our offense too,” he said. ”So I’m encouraged by the growth that I see that we can make.”
Timberwolves: F Kyle Anderson missed the game with back spasms. … Made their first six shots, all from inside the 3-point line. … Shot 65.2% in the first quarter to take a 31-18 lead.
Thunder: G Jalen Williams sat out with a right orbital bone fracture. … Made 5 of 23 3-pointers in the first half. … Second-year G Tre Mann got the start and scored 10 points on 5-for-12 shooting. … F Eugene Omoruyi, a two-way player, scored all 13 of his points in the fourth quarter.
Timberwolves: Host the San Antonio Spurs on Monday.
Thunder: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.
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