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Andrew Wiggins helps end Minnesota's 13-year playoff drought — in OT of regular-season finale

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Minnesota Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins, left, drives against Denver Nuggets' Wilson Chandler during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 11, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Minnesota Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins, left, drives against Denver Nuggets' Wilson Chandler during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 11, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

When Minnesota traded for Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2014, the franchise hadn’t reached the NBA Playoffs in a decade.

That postseason-less streak continued for three more years before Wiggins played a part in putting an end to if Wednesday night — on the last day of the regular season, and in overtime to boot.

In what amounted to a Western Conference play-in game for the final available spot, the Timberwolves edged Denver, 112-106, in Minneapolis.

It was still a one-possession game in the final 20 seconds of OT until Wiggins, the fourth-year small forward out of Kansas, drained a pair of clutch free throws with 14.6 seconds showing on the clock, pushing Minnesota’s lead to 110-106.

The 74.1-percent career free-throw shooter even managed to deliver after the Nuggets’ Will Barton paid him a visit at the charity stripe — no doubt reminding him about his 3-for-6 night at the line up to that point — just before the freebies.

Wiggins just smiled, laughed and proceeded to knock down both free throws.

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“My man Wiggs hit the two biggest free throws of his career,” veteran all-star guard Jimmy Butler said in an on-court interview immediately after the Timberwolves sealed their playoff berth. “This was a team effort.”

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The two crucial foul shots came just more than a minute after Wiggins passed to Jeff Teague for a go-ahead jumper.

The 6-foot-8 wing known for his next-level athleticism, as well as often leaving observers wanting more, finished with 18 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3-for-5 3-point shooting in the victory that pushed Minnesota into the postseason for the first time since 2004.

The win gave Minnesota a 47-35 record for the season and the No. 8 seed in the West. The T’wolves will take on the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs, the Houston Rockets (65-16).

Comments

Shannon Gustafson 4 months ago

It's crazy that he's statistically one of the worst defenders in the NBA.

Brian Leslie 4 months ago

When you've been coached by Bill Self and Tom Thibodeau and mentored by Jimmy Butler, the problem on defense isn't the coaching.

Scott Proch 4 months ago

Makes my stomach turn with I watch him!! Jogs up and down 90% of trips. Catch and shoot guy with a athleticism that is still waiting to be unleashed.

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