MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Trailing by a point with 7.2 seconds left, Timberwolves coach Chris Finch looked at Karl-Anthony Towns in the huddle and told him he’d get the ball with a chance to put Minnesota ahead.
It set up Towns for a memorable return from a calf injury.
Towns drove to his right against Atlanta’s John Collins, drawing a foul. He converted both free throws with 3.6 seconds left to send Minnesota to a 125-124 win against the Hawks on Wednesday night.
“Shoutout to Finch having that confidence in me after 51 games and all of the things I had to deal with,” said Towns said, who scored 22 points. “I just knew in my bones I wasn’t going to miss.”
But officials acknowledged after the game they missed on the game’s final play.
A foul wasn’t called as Minnesota’s Taurean Prince appeared to make contact with Atlanta’s Saddiq Bey after Bey secured an offensive rebound. After reviewing it after the game, crew chief Ben Taylor told a pool reporter a foul should have been called.
ESPN Sources: After missing 51 games with a calf injury, Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns plans to make his return vs. the Atlanta Hawks tonight. Towns has been out since Nov. 28, and comes back with Minnesota ninth in the Western Conference playoff race.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 22, 2023
After missing 51 straight games with a Grade 3 calf strain, Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns will return tonight vs. Atlanta Hawks barring setback in pregame, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Nine games remaining as T'Wolves battle for playoff positioning. pic.twitter.com/t7rxbqJ5ww
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 22, 2023
“On postgame review, we see it,” Taylor said. “It appears that Prince moves back into Bey’s space, and we should have assessed a foul on the play.”
Naz Reid added 26 points off the bench and Jaden McDaniels had 25 for Minnesota, which trailed by 10 points with 7:18 remaining but used a 19-5 run to get back in the game.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.