Towns, Teague lead Wolves to 120-113 win over Nets
MINNEAPOLIS — Jimmy Butler is gone and so is Minnesota's losing streak, after a victory over a Nets team devastated by a gruesome injury to leading scorer Caris LeVert.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 25 points and a season-high 21 rebounds, and the Timberwolves beat Brooklyn 120-113 on Monday after finally trading Butler.
Jeff Teague returned from a six-game absence to score 24 points for Minnesota, which snapped a five-game losing streak.
"It's good to get a win after the slide we've been having," Towns said. "It doesn't matter how it comes, pretty or ugly. As long as it ends up being a win, we're good with that."
The Nets lost LeVert to what appeared to be a severe right leg injury late in the first half that brought the entire crowd at Target Center to a silence.
LeVert spent several minutes on the court being attended by medical personnel. Nets players surrounded their injured teammate before he was wheeled off the court.
"I just think it's a devastating blow for us, for him. That's all I really want to say about this," Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. "Our thoughts should be with him and his recovery. And I really don't want to talk about the game or anything else."
The Timberwolves officially dealt Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday, along with big man Justin Patton. The Wolves received Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second-round pick in the trade.
Butler had asked for a trade earlier in the season but coach and president of basketball of operations Tom Thibodeau said Monday that the team tried to remain patient in waiting for the right deal for the All-Star. Thibodeau refuted a report that Butler's trade demand included sending him to only a handful of teams.
In the first game of the post-Butler era, Minnesota used a strong effort from the backcourt duo of Teague and Derrick Rose, who had 23 points in 39 minutes. Teague was aggressive on offense for Minnesota in his first game since Oct. 29.
"We needed the downhill play and the attack," Thibodeau said. "I thought he and Derrick put a lot of pressure on them."
A former first-round pick in his third season, LeVert was averaging a team-high 19 points entering the game. He had 10 points, five rebounds and four assists before suffering the injury with just a few seconds remaining before halftime.
LeVert was taken to a hospital for further evaluation. Players from around the league tweeted out their support for LeVert shortly after the injury occurred.
"There were really just no words," said Nets forward Joe Harris. "We didn't talk even when we came in at halftime. There's nothing really to be said. You could just feel it, the emotions from everybody. Guys were crying coming in, it was really that horrific just to see."
D'Angelo Russell made a career-high nine 3-pointers and scored 31 points for the Nets, who shot a season-worst 39.6 percent from the field.
Neither team led by more than five points until late in the third quarter, when Gorgui Dieng's 3-pointer and a pair of free throws by Teague extended Minnesota's advantage to 10 points. Brooklyn cut it to 97-96 early in the fourth before the Wolves pulled away.
Minnesota overcame a season-high 23 turnovers.
Nets: C Jarrett Allen missed the game due to illness. Allen has averaged 11.4 points and 7.8 rebounds this season. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson started at center. ... Brooklyn's bench outscored Minnesota's reserves 40-18, including 14 from Spencer Dinwiddie.
Timberwolves: Teague had been out with a bruised left knee. ... SF Andrew Wiggins (right quad contusion) was back after sitting out Minnesota's game Friday at Sacramento. .. Minnesota is now 5-1 at home and 0-8 on the road.
WOLVES PLAYERS PRAY FOR LEVERT
As LeVert was on the court following his leg injury, Anthony Tolliver huddled his teammates together for a prayer.
"It's really a tough situation, because we all know that could be us," Tolliver said. "We just know that sick feeling. We definitely wanted to do what we could. I got the guys together and prayed for him."
Rose noted that he's been on the court when three players suffered serious leg injuries: Paul George, Gordon Hayward and now LeVert.
Nets: Host Miami on Wednesday night.
Timberwolves: Host New Orleans on Wednesday night.