Jimmy Butler upstages LeBron James from long range to lift Wolves

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Jimmy Butler might still be waiting to be traded, but that didn’t stop the Minnesota All-Star from burying LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers under a barrage of 3-pointers on Monday. nike

Delivering perhaps his best game since he demanded a trade during the preseason, Butler scored 32 points and was a perfect 5-for-5 from behind the 3-point arc in the fourth quarter, including a 26-footer over Rajon Rondo’s outstretched arms with 19.7 seconds left to effectively seal the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 124-120 victory over the Lakers at the Target Center.

Despite demanding a trade, Butler has averaged 22.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 1.3 blocks in six games, and he says the preseason drama won’t stop the Timberwolves from playing together.8

“It’s basketball,” Butler said when asked about hitting a big 3-pointer in the context of what he and the team have been through this season. “I don’t think nothing that has gone on before this game has anything to do with us going out there and competing.

Butler seemed to be energized by the Lakers and James being in the building. He finished 6-for-7 from behind the arc.

James missed his first five shots but finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks.

Playing without the injured Andrew Wiggins, the Timberwolves (3-4) inched closer to .500 after opening the season by playing three of their first five on the road. It could have been a dysfunctional start for the Timberwolves, who were mired in controversy after the Butler trade demand dominated the headlines around the team.

After going 2-for-11 and scoring four points in a loss to Milwaukee on Friday, Butler rebounded with 32 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks against the Lakers.

Minnesota head coach Tom Thibodeau liked the team effort he received, as Karl-Anthony Towns had 25 points, 16 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 blocks, and rookie Josh Okogie added 17 points and 3 steals.

“I think you have to have a mentality to understand the course of a season,” Thibodeau said of the Wolves’ snapping a two-game losing streak and bouncing back from a 125-95 loss to the Bucks at home. “There will be some ups and downs, and how you deal with both are important. If things are going well, if you start to feel too good about yourself, you are usually going to get knocked down, and you also have to know how to lift yourself up when things aren’t going your way. There are important lessons to be learned. I think two days of practice were good for us.”