MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Anthony Edwards scored 25 points, D’Angelo Russell had 23 points and 10 assists, and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Brooklyn Nets 136-125 on Sunday.
Karl-Anthony Towns overcame a poor shooting night, scoring 15 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter as the Wolves finished the game, winning for the third time in four games.
“I don’t have to be me every night,” said Towns, Minnesota’s leading scorer and rebounder. “That’s why we have great talent like D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards. You have to be able to lean on them. They can carry the load just as well as I can.”
Minnesota also received strong contributions from its role players. Jaylen Nowell scored 16 points, Taurean Prince had 15 and Jaden McDaniels added 14. All three were 18-for-26 from the floor, including a perfect 6-for-6 night from Prince.
“Those guys are coming in, bringing their own energy and flavor to the game,” Russell said. “That takes the pressure off everyone.”
Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 30 points for the Nets, while Patty Mills hit five 3-pointers en route to 21 points. Kessler Edwards added 15 points, and James Harden had 13 points and 13 assists for Brooklyn, which is 2-2 since losing leading scorer Kevin Durant to a sprained left knee ligament.
“I don’t know if we put up enough resistance, we weren’t in the body enough,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “I didn’t feel that our will, our strength, felt defensive. Whatever it was, we didn’t have the juice down there tonight. … We tried to find a way to hold on and see if we could run defensively. We just never did.”
Minnesota led as many as 15 in the third quarter before a late surge brought the Nets within seven before the fourth. Then Towns got to work, hitting a pair of 3-pointers and converting a 3-point play as part of his huge fourth quarter.
The Nets dominated the boards, outrebounding Minnesota 16-5 in the first quarter and 48-37 overall. But after shooting more than 55% in the first quarter, Brooklyn was frozen, shooting just 8 of 24 from the floor in the second quarter.
Meanwhile, Russell led Minnesota with 17 points in the first half as the Wolves shot 56.8% from the field to take a 72-62 halftime lead.
NBA officials have been cracking down this year on offensive players who make moves that seem designed solely to create contact and draw fouls. Harden has long been considered the poster child for this rule, and his coach is frustrated by the treatment his star shooting guard sometimes receives.
“I think there are nights where it’s fair, even including this year’s points of emphasis,” Nash said. “There are other nights where he feels like he’s a target all night. It automatically gets grouped at the point of emphasis where you’re creating the foul, which isn’t always the case at all.”
Harden indicated he’s more concerned that the Nets’ opponents aren’t receiving the same scrutiny, and he just hopes to see the rule enforced consistently.
“Obviously you can’t call them all, but there are some where there’s a clear stiff arm and tripping and things like that,” Harden said. “But at the other extreme, there is no consistency. So it’s frustrating.”
He also said he hasn’t heard much explanation from officials regarding some of the disputed fouls.
“Nothing, honestly. Like, ‘I didn’t see it’ or ‘I didn’t think it was a foul.’ But it’s clear, extremely clear,” Harden said. “But I have to move on. That’s not going to stop me. Keep getting to the basket, keep being aggressive and keep making plays for my team.”
Minnesota grabbed a big break early in the fourth quarter, just after Irving made two free throws to cut the lead to 106-102. On the Wolves’ next possession, a wild pass went out of bounds when it deflected off referee Curtis Blair.
Josh Okogie recovered the fumble just before it crossed the half-court line. When the shot clock ran out, the Wolves passed it to Prince in the corner, and he hit a 3-pointer to take Minnesota’s lead to seven. The Nets didn’t get closer than six points the rest of the way.
FASTER AT 300
Anthony Edwards hit his 300th career triple in the first quarter. At 20 years and 171 days, he is the youngest player in NBA history to accumulate 300 three-pointers, surpassing the record held by Luka Doncic by 187 days.
Edwards limped off the court late in the fourth quarter after hitting his knees with a Nets player. He did not return to the game, although Wolves coach Chris Finch later said Edwards told him it was nothing serious.
Nets: Nash said guard Joe Harris had had some “setbacks” in his recovery from ankle surgery in late November. He was initially expected to miss 4 to 8 weeks, but Nash said Harris was not yet healthy enough to resume practice.
Timberwolves: Minnesota played without G Patrick Beverley, who injured his right hand during Wednesday’s game at Atlanta. … In their previous five games, the Timberwolves were outscored by 51 points in the third quarter. On Sunday, Minnesota was only minus-3 (33-30) in the third.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Nets: After going 2-2 on a four-game road trip, Brooklyn is at home against the Lakers on Tuesday.
Timberwolves: Minnesota begins a three-game tour of the West Coast in Portland on Tuesday.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism