MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 33 points in his return to action and the Oklahoma City Thunder took advantage of Rudy Gobert's early ejection to post a chippy 135-128 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.
The teams were called for a combined eight technical fouls.
Gilgeous-Alexander, the NBA's third-leading scorer with a 31-point average, sat out one game earlier this week with a bruised hip. But he had no trouble getting physical against Minnesota, making 10 of 17 shots and all 12 of his free throws.
Josh Giddey had 21 points and 12 assists for his eighth double-double of the season. Lu Dort scored 18 points as seven Thunder players reached double digits.
D’Angelo Russell led the Timberwolves with 27 points. Anthony Edwards added 26 points — he's scored more than 20 in nine of his last 10 games. Jaylen Nowell added 21 points.
Tensions flared in the second quarter when Gobert was ejected for tripping Kenrich Williams. The two got tangled up on the ground after both fell as Williams made a layup with 9:22 remaining in the quarter.
As Williams attempted to get up, Gobert lifted up his right foot and tripped the Thunder forward. Gobert was called for a flagrant-2 foul while Williams received a technical.
Minus their center, the Timberwolves allowed the Thunder to shoot 51.6% from the field and score 66 points in the paint. The Timberwolves were also without Karl-Anthony Towns, who remains out with a calf strain.
The Thunder orchestrated an 18-3 run to go from trailing by one point to leading 125-113 with 4:14 to play.
Thunder: Center Mike Muscala (broken finger) was available off the bench for the first time since Nov. 21 but did not play. ... No. 2 overall pick Chet Holmgren went through a workout pregame as he recovers from a season-ending Lisfranc injury. Holmgren grew up five miles from Target Center.
Timberwolves: Gobert’s ejection was the fifth of his career and first since arriving in Minnesota. ... Forward Jaden McDaniels (illness) returned from a three-game absence, started at power forward and scored eight points. ... Backup point guard Jordan McLaughlin (strained calf) also returned after a five-game absence and scored eight points. ... Forward Taurean Prince (shoulder) missed his fifth consecutive game.
Thunder: At Atlanta on Monday night.
Timberwolves: Host Indiana on Wednesday night.
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Paul Hodowanic, The Associated Press