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Wolves Hold On To Beat Celtics
Down the stretch, Monday’s game against the Boston Celtics was a little too close for comfort considering the Minnesota Timberwolves had a double-digit lead in each quarter.
But when you’re playing the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, and it’s super cliché, but a win’s a win.
“It was a good win for us, their team plays fast, they play hard, they come at you with numbers,” Timberwolves interim head coach Sam Mitchell said. “We had some funky matchups tonight, but we felt like we’d have some of the advantages if we could just defend enough.”
The Wolves led by four with 16.3 seconds left, but Ricky Rubio missed two free throws, allowing the Celtics to breathe. Avery Bradley responded with a clutch 3-pointer, putting the Celtics within one. Zach LaVine made one of two free throws with 5.3 seconds. Marcus Smart pulled up from 30-feet, but was short on the game-winning shot.
(Takes deep breath.)
The Wolves snapped a two-game losing streak with the win and received some great play from the regular suspects. Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 28 points and 13 rebounds, while Rubio added 15 points, eight assists, eight rebounds and a steal. But the Wolves also got solid contributions from Shabazz Muhammad and Tyus Jones off the bench. Muhammad finished with 13 points in 20 minutes, while Jones finished with a career-high nine points, including a layup in which he out-hustled Marcus Smart and Bradley for the loose ball. He also added two rebounds and an assist.
Rubio gave the rookie plenty of love postgame.
“Tonight he showed he had character and that’s why he’s here,” Rubio said.
The win moves the Wolves to 18-39 overall, while the Celtics fall to 33-25.
Aside from Towns and Rubio, Gorgui Dieng had a great night, finishing with 17 points (including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in the third quarter) and 12 rebounds. Andrew Wiggins also added 17 points. LaVine finished with 16 points, shooting 4-for-5 from the 3-point line.
The Celtics were led by Jae Crowder and his 27 points and nine rebounds. Bradley added 22, while Isaiah Thomas scored 18. Smart and Jared Sullinger finished with 17 and 12 points, respectively.
- Towns notched his 20th 20-point game of the season and his 32nd double-double.
- Rubio was two points and two rebounds away from his first triple-double of the season and fifth of his career.
- By shooting 51.8 percent, the Wolves eclipsed the 50 percent mark for the 11th time this season.
- Rubio held Thomas in check , forcing him to shoot just 8-for-20 from the field and 2-for-7 from the 3-point line.
- The Wolves had 40 free-throw attempts and connected on 30. The Celtics had just 17 attempts and made 14.
Leader of the Pack: Karl-Anthony Towns
Towns continues to make his mark on the NBA while remaining the Rookie of the Year leader. Towns finished with 28 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and two blocks. He shot 13-for-22 from the field, 1-for-2 from the 3-point line and 1-for-2 from the free-throw line.
In his last six game, Towns has eclipsed 24 or more points four times. He’s also collected 10 or more rebounds in 11 of his last 12 games.
Highlight of the Night:
Dieng heaved up a contested 3-pointer as the buzzer erupted to end the third quarter. Dieng got the shot off in time and banked it in, giving the Wolves a 93-84 lead.
The Wolves will hit the road after practice on Tuesday to travel back to Toronto, where they had so much success at All-Star Weekend. The Wolves will play the Raptors on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. The game will air on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO.