Towns hot, Wolves not ahead of visit to Brooklyn
NEW YORK — For the first time in his brief career, Karl-Anthony Towns produced consecutive 30-point games.
The productive numbers mean little for Towns because the Minnesota Timberwolves have been unable to get wins.
Towns and the Timberwolves (1-4) will look to turn things around Tuesday night when they visit the Brooklyn Nets (2-4).
Towns has six career games with 30 points since entering the league as the top overall pick in 2015, but Minnesota lost four of those contests.
In those games, Towns shot 64 percent. The problem is, the Timberwolves were outscored by 34 points, and the rest of the team made 41 percent of its shots.
On Thursday, Towns scored 32 points but the Timberwolves squandered a 15-point deficit by getting outscored by 19 in the third quarter of a 102-99 home loss to the Denver Nuggets.
During a 112-92 loss at Oklahoma City on Saturday, Towns scored 33, but the Timberwolves gave up an 18-1 run to begin the second half and shot 39 percent. Towns had 25 points by halftime, but Minnesota trailed by six after allowing an 18-11 run to end the half.
“It's the least of my worries,” Towns said of his high point totals. “That's the least thing I care about. None of those stats matter without us getting the win. It's frustrating because we didn't get the win. I'd rather finish with zero points and one rebound and get a 'W' than what I had tonight.”
For Minnesota, at times the problem has been ball movement. With Ricky Rubio (elbow) sidelined, the point guard responsibilities have gone to rookie Kris Dunn and second-year man Tyus Jones, who have combined on 17 assists in the past two defeats.
In the third quarter of those games, Minnesota shot 11 of 40 and missed 10 of 11 3-point attempts.
“You have to make plays,” Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “You have to move the ball side to side. When we did that, we got good looks.
“It's everyone. You need five people moving the ball, know when to shoot, when to pass. It's an important part of winning.”
The Nets can relate to having a young point guard, especially since Tuesday is their second game since losing Jeremy Lin (strained left hamstring) for at least two weeks.
Besides Lin, Brooklyn has been without veterans Randy Foye (strained right hamstring) and Greivis Vasquez (sprained right ankle). Foye has yet to play this season, while Vasquez has missed the past three games.
With their experienced options at point guard sidelined, Brooklyn turned to Isaiah Whitehead. The rookie made his first start Friday when the Nets squandered a pair of 13-point leads in the first half and were handed a 99-95 loss by the Charlotte Hornets.
Whitehead played 23 minutes, and Sean Kilpatrick spent some of his 32 1/2 minutes at the point. Kilpatrick scored 19 points but was 5 of 15, and Brook Lopez cooled off after a quick start to finish with 18 points.
“I just think of the guys that are out there, and I want our offense to run well, whoever is in there,” Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. “It's just for some reason we just didn't have any rhythm.”
Part of the rhythm was not figuring out options for Lopez, who faced constant double teams in the second half. It is likely he might face more of that type of defense while Lin recovers.
“They were just coming from the baseline trying to double,” Lopez said. “They did a good job of pressuring us a lot, denied us, got us out of our motion and made us try different things. If that continues to happen, it's something we'll address, for sure.”
Minnesota has won 10 of the last 14 meetings with the Nets. Towns had 24 and 10 rebounds during a 100-85 win at Brooklyn last Dec. 20 and finished with 28 points as the Wolves shot 66.8 percent during a 132-118 home win on March 5.