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Towns' Return Is Felt By All
Welcome back, Karl-Anthony Towns. We missed you.
After 34 days of Towns-less basketball, we got our fill Friday night.
Towns missed the Wolves’ last 15 games leading up to their Friday night 116-114 loss to the Indiana Pacers due to a knee injury sustained in the Wolves’ loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Dec. 13 and due to an illness he caught during his recovery to prolong his hiatus. Not great. So when he was cleared to play on Friday night, Wolves fans let out a large sigh of relief and waited to watch their star take the court.
Welcome back, Big KAT pic.twitter.com/B6PhXKuhuD
— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) January 17, 2020
And when Towns played for the first time in over a month, it was as if he never left.
Despite being on a minutes restriction, Towns scored a team-high 27 points and allowed the Wolves to make things more interesting against Indiana than they did on Wednesday night.
The Wolves were held scoreless in the first three minutes of Friday’s game and missed their first seven shot attempts but were bailed out by Towns who scored their first nine points of the game. Towns only played five minutes in the first quarter — which was the fewest first-quarter minutes of any starter — but was the Wolves' leading scorer after the opening frame. He went on to record 13 points in his first 13 minutes of action.
KAT provided us with some masterful highlights that we missed over the past month, including this beautiful dunk out of the pick-and-roll action with Andrew Wiggins, but his contributions went beyond his own box score.
Towns’ impact on this team can’t be measured solely by how many points, rebounds or defensive stops records. And that’s why he’s invaluable.
When Towns, one of the most efficient offensive players of all time, is on the floor, he demands defenses’ attention, creating opportunities for his teammates. We saw this especially with his impact on Wiggins’ game Friday night. Wiggins had been struggling in the three games before the Wolves’ Friday night loss, but with Towns back, he was able to find his way to the rim for buckets of his own or kick-outs to his sharp-shooter center.
Wiggs and KAT continue to click pic.twitter.com/wCvnsEntMw
— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) January 18, 2020
Wiggins averaged 10.3 points on 28.9% shooting from the field in the Wolves’ three games before Towns’ return. With KAT back alongside him, he recorded 22 points on 9-for-17 shooting from the field and 2-for-3 shooting from behind the arc and four assists, two of which went to Towns.
The entire Wolves team gave KAT a proper welcome-back by shooting 43.6% from deep after knocking down 17 of their 39 3-point attempts. The Wolves hit five of their first six third-quarter 3-point attempts and finished the frame with 11 3s.
There’s still plenty to work on moving forward, but it’s easier to face those obstacles knowing Towns will be along for the ride.