With Wiggins out, Timberwolves turn back to All-Star Towns

Karl-Anthony Towns, Wolves center (⬆️ UP)

No Andrew Wiggins? No problem. Minnesota struggled without its resurging forward when he missed back-to-back games over the weekend, but the Timberwolves rode the All-Star Towns to victory Tuesday night when Wiggins was out again. For the second time this season, Towns tied a career high with seven 3-pointers and took over in the fourth quarter to lead Minnesota to a 112-102 victory over Utah, handing the Jazz their first loss at home. Towns finished the night with 29 points, 13 rebounds five assists, two steals and two blocks. He’s posted a double-double in four straight games and 10 of 12 overall in 2019-20.

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P.J. Fleck, Gophers head coach (⬇️ DOWN)

We can still call the Gophers’ unexpected success in 2019 a “magical” season, but it took a big hit over the weekend when Minnesota suffered a 23-19 loss to rival Iowa on the road. Undefeated no more. Fleck saw some criticism not only for the loss but on what he did late in the third quarter. Trailing 20-13, the Gophers had the ball at the Iowa 14-yard line and faced a fourth-and-4. Tanner Morgan misfired on a pass to star receiver Tyler Johnson, who was violently knocked to the ground by a Hawkeyes defensive back. Iowa was flagged for the unsportsmanlike conduct, a penalty that would back the Hawkeyes half the distance to the goal line (so, the 7). But Fleck sprinted onto the field to check on Johnson and was flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty himself. The Hawkeyes took over at the 22-yard line instead of the 7, which didn’t necessarily cost Minnesota the win, but it certainly didn’t help.

Richard Pitino, Gophers head coach (⬇️ DOWN)

Another Gophers head coach had a rough week. Pitino’s Gophers lost three straight games to Oklahoma, Butler and Utah and now sit at 1-3 on the season. Minnesota fell behind 16-0 to Utah in the opening minutes and was able to trim the deficit to two points on two occasions but could never complete the comeback. The Gophers will try to get back on track with a pair of back-to-back cupcakes against Central Michigan on Thursday and North Dakota on Sunday.

Kelan Martin, Timberwolves (⬆️ UP)

Who is this guy? Martin, signed to a two-way contract with Minnesota in August, sunk six of his seven attempts from the field and finished the night with a career-best 14 points in 24 minutes. Martin made his NBA debut with the Timberwolves on Oct. 25 and has played in four games, averaging 5.5 points and 2.3 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per game.

Zach Parise, Wild forward (⬆️ UP)

It appears Parise has found himself again. The 35-year-old forward scored a goal for the third straight game Tuesday night, tallying two in a 4-1 win over Buffalo. Before the three-game stretch, Parise had gone scoreless in nine of his last 10 games. As we noted Tuesday, Parise is one of seven players this season to score a goal in five different fashions: even strength, power play, shorthanded, empty net and game winning. You can add one more game-winning goal to his stat line after Tuesday night.

Jason Zucker, Wild forward (⬆️ UP)

Zucker had a nice game Tuesday, scoring a goal and tallying an assist in the Wild’s 4-1 win on the road in Buffalo. It was Zucker’s third multi-point game of the 2019-20 campaign and first goal since Nov. 7.