Kyrie Irving scored 50 points but the Timberwolves outlasted the Nets in overtime to win the season opener in Brooklyn 127-126 on Wednesday night.
It came down to the final possession, with Irving one-on-one with Josh Okogie. Irving tried to spin on Okogie but lost his footing before firing up an off-balance shot that didn't go as time expired.
Minnesota counted Irving's 50-point game with Karl-Anthony Towns stuffing the box score with 36 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocks. Andrew Wiggins added 21 points and eight rebounds.
The new-look Wolves looked like they were shot out of a cannon, building a 17-point lead in the second quarter and taking a 68-56 lead into the half. But the tide turned as Brooklyn outscored Minnesota 37-20 in the third quarter, turning a 12-point deficit into a five-point lead entering the fourth quarter.
The final 90 seconds of the fourth quarter was like a Rocky-Creed fight, with both teams trading haymakers.
Trailing 112-110 with 1:31 to go, Andrew Wiggins tied the score with an athletic drive and layup. Irving, in his debut game with the Nets, came right back with a step-back three to give the Nets a three-point lead.
Not to be outdone, Karl-Anthony Towns came out of a timeout and drilled his seventh three of the game to knot it up at 115.
Still tied with 5.7 seconds to go, Nets big man Jarrett Allen missed two free throws and Towns blocked Taurean Prince's shot after he grabbed an offensive rebound. Minnesota's game-winning attempt by Wiggins at the buzzer didn't go and they went to overtime.
Minnesota's offense was electric in the first half, connecting on nine 3-pointers while shooting 50% overall en route to a 12-point halftime lead.
Here's how the Wolves shot from three (13-of-43, 30.2% as a team):
- Towns: 7-of-11
- Covington: 3-of-6
- Layman: 2-of-4
- Okogie: 1-of-4
- Wiggins: 0-of-4
- Napier: 0-of-6
- Graham: 0-of-3
- Vonleh: 0-of-2
- Culver: 0-of-2
- Teague: 0-of-1
Head coach Ryan Saunders mixed the lineup combinations from time-to-time, but it was clear that there was a starting five and a second group of five players that played together.
- Starters: Teague, Wiggins, Graham, Covington, Towns
- Group 2: Napier, Okogie, Culver, Layman, Vonleh
Gorgui Dieng, making $16.2 million this season, did not play. Nor did Jordan Bell and Kelan Martin, while Keita Bates-Diop and Naz Reid were inactive.
Up next: Wolves at Charlotte Hornets, Friday at 6 p.m. The home opener is against Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat at 6 p.m. Sunday. Butler did not play in Miami's opener due to a personal reason.