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Towns' near triple-double pushes Wolves past Knicks, 118-108
By BRIAN HALL
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Karl-Anthony Towns found teammate Nemanja Bjelica cutting for a layup on one trip down the floor in the fourth quarter, and later hit an open Bjelica for a 3-pointer and a double-digit lead.
Towns on the floor with four reserves to start the fourth was the right mix against the New York Knicks on Friday night, and Minnesota continued its impressive homestand.
Towns fell one assist shy of his second career triple-double, scoring 23 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in the Timberwolves' 118-108 victory.
"I think we just have a good chemistry right now," Towns said. "We know where people are going to be. We're doing a great job of putting ourselves in spots that we know the person dribbling or facilitating the ball is comfortable getting into them."
Taj Gibson added 17 points and Andrew Wiggins had 16 for Minnesota. The Timberwolves shot 56.7 percent (38 of 67) over the final three quarters to come from behind and win their fourth game in a row and 11th of 14 overall.
Minnesota had eight players score in double figures to win its fourth straight game by at least 10 points, the second-longest streak in team history behind a six-game stretch in 2001.
"I thought the bench at the end of the third, start of the fourth gave us a big lift," Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We started the game with not much energy, but we found a way to win in the end. I like this offensively a lot. I thought we made a lot of good plays, unselfish plays. But defensively, we didn't get going until the fourth quarter."
Kristaps Porzingis scored 17 points for New York. Porzingis was 3 of 5 from 3-point territory but 3 of 14 from inside the arc. Enes Kanter had his 18th double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds, but the Knicks lost for the ninth time in 11 games.
"We got to be better in these bad moments like we had in today's game," Porzingis said. "We got to fix those. ... We're not too far off. We're in a bad moment right now, but we're going to get ourselves out of it."
Knicks: New York is 4-15 on the road this season. ... Former Wolves forward Michael Beasley scored 13 points in 16 minutes off the bench. Beasley had 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting in just six minutes in the second quarter. ... The Knicks entered the night with the league's fewest 3-point attempts, but went 12 of 24.
Timberwolves: Minnesota had its sixth straight sellout, the longest streak for the franchise since it sold out 48 straight games from 1990-92. The Timberwolves sold out every game of the 1990-91 season and had seven in a row to start the 1991-92 season. Minnesota has nine sellouts this season. ... Towns' nine assists were a season high. ... Minnesota allowed more than 100 points for the first time in eight games.
Tim Hardaway Jr. returned for the Knicks after missing 20 games with a stress injury in his lower left leg. He scored 16 points in 25 minutes off the bench. Coach Jeff Hornacek said Hardaway would play limited minutes in a reserve role as he tries to build up stamina.
"He looked out of sync," Hornacek said. "You could tell he doesn't have the speed that he had earlier on. That's going to take a little while. ... His speed will pick up."
In his first year back with the Knicks after a signing a four-year, $71 million contract in the offseason, Hardaway entered the night averaging 17.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 21 games.
BUOYED BY THE BENCH
The Wolves have been led by the starting five all season, but the bench provided a big spark on Friday.
Jamal Crawford hit three of his first five shots to spark the offense in the first half. New York had control much of the game before Minnesota's run with the reserves complementing Towns.
Bjelica scored eight points during a 17-3 run over the end of the third and start of the fourth quarters, capped by Bjelica's 3. Gorgui Dieng added six points during the stretch and the bench finished with 37 points.
"You can tell that the urgency to win in this locker room is real important," Gibson said. "From pretty much in the early months, it's a different attitude. Guys understanding that we really have a chance to do something special. So, guys just want to win. Whoever's out there, we're going to do it."
Knicks: Host New Orleans on Sunday
Timberwolves: Host Portland on Sunday.
For more NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
Updated January 12, 2018