Overtime in the NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Denver Nuggets
This article was originally posted at: https://medium.com/@chriswurtz14/butler-downs-nuggets-in-ot-128-125-dedeff9f6d3d
The Nuggets looked like a team playing on the road in the back end of a back-to-back for almost three quarters. They trailed the Timberwolves by 18 midway into the third quarter.
But late in the 3rd quarter, thanks to off-the-bench spark plugs Will Barton (28 points) and Trey Lyles (23 points), Denver broke off a 14–2 run to trim the lead to six. The Nuggets tied in the 4th quarter with two late Barton free throws which forced overtime at 114–114.
Then in overtime, Jimmy Butler happened.
Butler poured in 39 points on this night, 12 of which coming in overtime. He scored 12 of the Timberwolves 14 points in the overtime period. Per the Denver commentators, he attempted 10 consecutive field goals of Minnesota’s during one stretch of the 4th/OT. He shot 16–18 from the charity stripe.
All of this with only one turnover.
Denver’s leaky defense is usually who the blame would be placed on after an opponent goes off in this fashion. But in all reality, Mike Malone’s squad didn’t even have a poor night defensively.
Jimmy "Buckets" was just a man unconscious. He repeatedly took Gary Harris and Jamal Murray off the dribble in one-on-one iso-ball situations and herky-jerked his way into the midrange area and hit off-balanced, contested jumpers.
He always had a hand in his face and was being bodied up, but there was just no stopping Butler on this night. He was even caught by cameras yelling “HE CAN’T expletive WITH ME!” after sinking a 14-footer in Murray’s face.
On the bright side for Denver, Barton and Lyles had huge nights off the bench, as Lyles continues to shape up to be a steal via trade.
Jamal Murray is asserting himself as a bona fide scorer, scoring 21 points and hitting a few memorable fade-away, Dirk-esque mid range jumpers. He’s a guy you get the feel just has a knack for putting the ball in the hole. Murray also had a career-high eight assists.
The could-have-won divisional losses are beginning to pile up for these Nuggets, with two to Minnesota and one to Oklahoma City within the past week. The Northwest is evidently a tough place to play, with four potential playoff teams and a Utah team not so far off in 9th place.
But this young team will have to learn to finish strong and come out on top of these close games if they want to return to the playoffs for the first time in four seasons.
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