Slumping Suns no match for Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns has watched his Minnesota Timberwolves give up so many leads this season that he had finally had enough.
Once he made up his mind, the Phoenix Suns couldn’t hold him down.
Towns had 28 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Timberwolves to a 115-108 triumph on Monday night.
“I was going to do everything in my power and my part to ensure we didn’t come out of tonight with a loss,” said Towns.
Andrew Wiggins scored 26 points and Zach LaVine added 23 for the Timberwolves. Ricky Rubio had 12 assists and Minnesota picked up its first win at home since Nov 17.
Eric Bledsoe scored 27 points for the Suns, who have lost three straight and four out of five. Brandon Knight scored 21 off the bench and Devin Booker scored 18 on 6-for-15 shooting for Phoenix.
The game figured to be heavy on offense, with two young teams more concerned with putting the ball in the basket than stopping anyone on the other end.
The Suns came into the game second in the league in pace, second in fast-break points and third in points off turnovers.
The Wolves became the first team in history to have three 21-year-olds averaging at least 20 points per game.
“One thing we know we need to get better at is our toughness,” Suns coach Earl Watson said.
“That’s not a stat. We have to become more feisty because we are small on the perimeter.”
The Wolves built a 14-point lead in the first half, but have given away double-digit leads all season.
They were coming off a particularly disheartening loss against Houston on Saturday in which they blew a 12-point lead with two minutes left before losing in overtime.
Phoenix reduced the deficit to two points several times in the fourth, but the Wolves had an answer each time.
After Phoenix cut Minnesota’s lead to 105-103 with four minutes to play, Towns grabbed two offensive rebounds against Tyson Chandler, who ranks fifth in the NBA in rebounding, and scored on the second putback after getting fouled.
Towns let out a yell and pounded his bicep, then swished the free throw for a five-point lead to ignite a 10-2 run to seal the win.
“Even missing the first one, I was determined to get that second one,” said Towns.
“I would’ve gotten a foul running over someone to get it.
“I used every single ounce of energy I had left to make sure I got up to get that ball.”
That kind of intensity is what Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau has been trying to instil from the start.
“Great multiple-effort play,” said Thibodeau.
“That’s will and determination and often times that’s the difference right there between winning and losing.”
Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns defends as Phoenix Suns’ Eric Bledsoe eyes the basket during the first quarter of their NBA game on Monday in Minneapolis.