The Associated PressOKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Ryan Saunders went right into the fire in his first game as the Minnesota Timberwolves’ interim coach.
His debut was a down-to-the wire finish with the Oklahoma City Thunder, one of the best teams in the Western Conference.
His team came through. Andrew Wiggins had a season-high 40 points and 10 rebounds, and the Timberwolves beat the Thunder 119-117 on Tuesday night.
Saunders deflected credit after the game.
“It’s unbelievable how they stayed connected throughout the whole game,” he said. “Down the stretch, there were so many times where we could have disbanded and then the crowd could have got into us. I can’t say enough about that team.”
Saunders, just 32 years old, is the son of former Timberwolves head coach Flip Saunders. The team fired Tom Thibodeau on Sunday.
The players went all out for their new leader.
“He fed off our energy, and we fed off his energy,” Timberwolves forward Taj Gibson said. “We were just trying to get a win for him.”
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.
“We just tried to stay solid, really,” Wiggins said. “We knew they were going to try to be aggressive with either [Paul] George or Westbrook. If we’re going to foul, make a hard foul. And don’t let them hit the 3. That was the main thing.”
Thunder reserve center Nerlens Noel was taken off the court on a stretcher in the third quarter after taking an elbow to the face when Wiggins went up on a dunk attempt.
NBA reviews McCaw matter
The NBA is looking into the circumstances surrounding Patrick McCaw’s short-lived stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
A person with knowledge of the situation said Tuesday that the league has opened a review at the request of the Golden State Warriors, the team that McCaw had spent the previous two seasons with.
The New York Times first reported that the NBA was reviewing the matter. It’s unclear how long the NBA’s review will take, or what — if anything — the Warriors are seeking.
The Warriors held McCaw’s rights as a restricted free agent, then elected not to match the two-year, $6 million offer sheet that he signed with the Cavaliers on Dec. 28 — with the potential luxury tax ramifications among the many reasons that factored into their thinking.Speech