Timberwolves’ Towns boosts All-Star resume with game-winning shot

Minnesota Timberwolves aren’t exactly Timberpups anymore. Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins are well into their NBA careers at this point, while the Wolves’ lineup features seven players with 5-plus years of experience.

Welcome to the 2018-19 edition of the Young Wolves Tracker, formerly the Timberpups Tracker.

Each Thursday we’ll either track the progress of the Iowa Wolves players who might be of help to the Timberwolves in the future, or a current member of Minnesota’s roster. We’ll also give updates on the other young players from the previous week.

This is the 13th edition of the 2018-19 Young Wolves Tracker.

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SPOTLIGHT ON …

Karl-Anthony Towns

The Timberwolves, who had suffered back-to-back losses to Utah and are fighting for their playoff lives, needed a win.

Veteran point guard Jerryd Bayless missed two shots as time expired in the fourth quarter Wednesday against Memphis, and both teams struggled from the field in overtime.

The score was knotted at 97 as time was winding down in OT. And that’s when Towns came through in the clutch.

Andrew Wiggins handled the ball near the logo with 20 second to play. He pulled up from 22 feet away and chucked up a long jumper. It missed. But Towns, boxed out by two Grizzlies players, was there to scoop up the long rebound with 1.5 seconds left. He bounced the ball once, spun and let a prayer fly.

Swish.

The last-second heave shook off an otherwise tough game for Towns. Held to just 26 minutes on the floor due to foul trouble, Towns tallied 16 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 0 for 6 from 3-point range — just the second game this season he hasn’t recorded a 3.

Towns has cooled off a bit since his insane nine-game stretch a few weeks ago when he averaged 28.3 points and 16.2 rebounds per game. But his production all season: 22.6 points, 12.1 rebounds and career-best 3.1 assists and 1.9 blocks per game — all while averaging the fewest minutes (33.1) since his rookie season in 2015-16 – add up to an impressive campaign.

Those numbers are All-Star worthy, according to his head coach Ryan Saunders.

We’ll find out for sure Thursday night.

WOLF TRACKS

— Not-so-young Wolves: Luol Deng was an afterthought on the roster all season, appearing in just four games before this recent stretch. Deng has played in eight of the last nine games and is shooting 42.9 percent from 3 in that span, going off for a season-high 15 points against Utah on Sunday.

— Not-so-young Wolves, Version II: No one has stepped up more than Bayless. Filling in for an injured Jeff Teague, Derrick Rose and Tyus Jones at point guard, Bayless has tallied double-digit points in his last five games and sunk 3+ 3-pointers in four straight games. He’s seen 40+ minutes twice in the last three games, something he’s done just three times since 2015.

— Undrafted rookie Jared Terrell poured in a career-best 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting (2 of 3 from deep) in a win over the Los Angeles Lakers last Thursday.

— Since logging a career-high 21 points against Phoenix on Jan. 22, rookie Josh Okogie has drained just one of his last 17 3-point attempts and is shooting 21.1 percent from the field. Yikes.

— Down at the farm: The G League Iowa Wolves are 9-23 on the season and have lost seven straight games. A lone bright spot has been Darius Johnson-Odom, who ranks 11th in the league in scoring (21.6 points per game) and tallied 35 points in a loss to the South Bay Lakers on Friday.