3:35 AM ET

Chris Herring

SAN ANTONIO — It wasn’t exactly leading the benchwarmers to victory over the starters in a scrimmage, but Jimmy Butler — even in a somewhat rusty form — again illustrated his value to the Timberwolves in their season-opening 112-108 loss against the Spurs on Wednesday.

Down eight points and looking dead in the water with about three and a half minutes to play, Minnesota found itself back in the game largely on the strength of Butler’s playmaking down the stretch. The four-time All-Star, who requested a trade and had a headline-grabbing outburst at a recent practice, put the team on his back after subbing in and either scoring or assisting on 11 of the team’s final 14 points.

Butler, who re-entered the game facing a 102-94 deficit, stunned the crowd by tying it at 108 by hitting a corner 3-pointer with just under 43 seconds left. DeMar DeRozan, a close friend of Butler’s, would eventually have the last laugh in his first game as a Spur, hitting the final basket on the ensuing possession and then icing it with free throws.

But all things considered, Butler said he was pleased with his

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