Timberwolves demonstrate dominant team skill in win over rival Thunder

Minnesota Timberwolves v Oklahoma City Thunder
Minnesota Timberwolves v Oklahoma City Thunder / Joshua Gateley/GettyImages

The Minnesota Timberwolves (33-14) came into Monday's bout against the home team, Oklahoma City Thunder (32-15), looking to even the series, as well as take back the one seed in a stacked western conference.

Down starting point guard, Mike Conley, the Timberwolves knew they were going to have to play a near-perfect game. Prior to the affair against Oklahoma City, Minnesota had only won one of four contests in games without the veteran floor general.

All three losses without Conley had come over the past three weeks. The 36-year-old's injury status and need for rest are things to watch out for as the season dwindles. It's been rumored that Minnesota is looking for additional help at point guard.

Despite Conley being absent from the lineup, the Timberwolves were able to put in a clutch performance at the end to seal the victory. Minnesota outscored Oklahoma City by 10 points in the final frame alone.

Here are three takeaways from Monday's win.

3. Wolves win the rebound battle.

When facing a team like the Thunder, who shoot as efficiently as they do, the last thing Minnesota wanted to do was allow for multiple chances to score on a single possession. Fortunately for the Wolves, they were able to win the rebound battle, 45-38, and secure defensive boards instead of giving the Thunder more chances to score. Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns both notably notched double-doubles in this game, with Gobert recording an absurd 18 boards on the night.

2. Team-wide clutch effort in the final frame.

After a back-and-forth affair for much of the contest, Shai-Gilgeous Alexander went on a scoring surge in the fourth quarter. With just two and a half minutes left, the Timberwolves trailed by a point. However, the Wolves would come roaring back to put the game away as Jaden McDaniels hit a clutch corner three, followed by a monster Edwards dunk. Next, McDaniels tip shot to put the Wolves up 103-97, with only 45 seconds to go.

As the time ticked, Minnesota cruised to a 107-101 victory. This game showed that these young Wolves are one of the more clutch squads in the league. Minnesota has an impressive 6-8 record when trailing going into the fourth quarter this season, tops in the NBA

1. Wolves reclaim the #1 seed

After the Thunder took the Western Conference lead for a brief period, the Timberwolves are back on top. Up next, Minnesota faces five of eight opponents with records of .500 or worse.

The Timberwolves have a golden opportunity to push their lead further in the West as they start gearing up for what could be a deeper playoff run than most Wolves fans have seen in their lifetime.

The Timberwolves return home tonight, to play the Luka Doncic-less Dallas Mavericks (26-21) at the Target Center. A few games removed from a 73-point performance, Doncic is sitting out tonight's affair in Minneapolis.

Additionally, Dallas will be without Kyrie Irving and rookie sensation, Dereck Lively II. Although the Dallas roster is sparse, Minnesota must take no game for granted in their quest for the number one seed.