Eighty-one games and 48 minutes weren’t enough to set the Western Conference playoff field. The Nuggets and Timberwolves needed overtime to complete a pivotal, high-pressure, tight finale.
Finally, Minnesota emerged with a 112-106 victory in the NBA’s first win-in, lose-out regular-season game since the Washington Bullets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1997. For the first time in 14 years, the Timberwolves are in the playoffs.
“We’ll enjoy it a little bit,” said Butler, who scored 31 points. “”Me and Cole are going to have some Sassicaia and have a good night tonight.
“We brought this organization, this city back where it needs to be.”
With two All-Stars in Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns (26 points and 14 rebounds) and a present-minded coach in Tom Thibodeau, it was high time for Minnesota to end its 13-season playoff drought (leaving the Kings’ with the longest active at 12 seasons).
Not that Denver made it easy.
The Nuggets won six straight entering tonight – all against winning teams – but it wasn’t enough. Denver (46-36) has the best record of a non-playoff team since the 48-34 Suns in 2014.