Saunders wins 1st game, T’Wolves top Thunder 119-117

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Andrew Wiggins had a season-high 40 points and 10 rebounds, and the Timberwolves beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 119-117 on Tuesday night in Ryan Saunders’ first game as Minnesota’s interim coach.

Saunders, just 32 years old, is the son of former Timberwolves head coach Flip Saunders. The team fired Tom Thibodeau on Sunday.

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 20 points and Dario Saric added 15 for the Timberwolves.

Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook missed two 3-pointers in the closing seconds that would have given the Thunder the lead. He finished with 25 points and 16 assists.

Paul George scored 27 points and Steven Adams added 20 points and 12 rebounds for Oklahoma City.

Thunder reserve center Nerlens Noel was taken off the court on a stretcher in the third quarter after Wiggins made contact with him on a dunk attempt.

Noel took an elbow in the face as Wiggins went up, and Noel hit the ground hard. A defensive foul was called on Noel. The play was reviewed, and no additional fouls were called. Noel was down for several minutes before being taken away from the court. There was no immediate word on Noel’s condition.

In the fourth quarter, Oklahoma City guard Dennis Schroder somehow won a jump ball with Towns, and Westbrook hit a 3-pointer to give the Thunder a 111-110 lead.

Josh Okogie’s corner 3-pointer with 26.8 seconds left put the Timberwolves up 119-115.

Westbrook made two free throws, then Minnesota’s Tyus Jones traveled with 15.5 seconds left to give the Thunder a chance.

TIP-INS

Thunder: G Alex Abrines missed his fifth consecutive game for personal reasons. … Schroder was listed as questionable with a left quad contusion, but he entered the game in the first quarter.

Timberwolves: G Derrick Rose missed his sixth straight game with a sprained right ankle. … F Robert Covington missed his fourth straight game with a bruised right knee. … Timberwolves guard Jeff Teague was ejected in the third quarter after a skirmish with Schroder.

UP NEXT

Timberwolves: Host the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.

Thunder: At the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday.

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

AP-WF-01-09-19 0404GMT

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