MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The toughness that Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and the rest of the veterans brought to the Minnesota Timberwolves this season was on display from start to finish.

Finally, after a 14-year absence, the long-languishing franchise is back in the playoffs.

Fittingly, it took until the last game and then some to get there.

Butler scored 31 points, Karl-Anthony Towns had 26 points and 14 rebounds, and the Timberwolves outlasted the Denver Nuggets 112-106 in overtime Wednesday night in the first final-day play-in game in the NBA in 21 years.

No team in the league had gone longer without a postseason appearance than the Timberwolves, who took Towns with the first overall pick in the 2015 draft and traded for Butler last summer to put themselves in position to return.

The Nuggets won six in a row to force this elimination game, including a 100-96 decision in Denver last week that was the last time the Wolves (47-35) played without Butler, and went 23-12 over their previous 35 contests.

Nikola Jokic locked in a classic big man battled with Towns, finishing with 35 points and 10 rebounds, but he missed six of his last eight shots after the third quarter as the valiant finish to this season fell just short. The Nuggets (46-36) haven't made the playoffs in five years.

Now it's the Timberwolves who are moving on to play, gulp, the NBA-best Houston Rockets.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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