Slump­ing Suns no match for Towns

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Min­neapo­lis

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.”

JIM MONE / AP

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.

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