MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Karl-Anthony Towns roared back from two tough games with career playoff-best 33 points and 14 rebounds, helping the Minnesota Timberwolves get past their Game 3 collapse and pull a 119-118 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies Saturday night to equalize . first round series at 2-2.
Anthony Edwards scored 24 points and backup Jordan McLaughlin went 4 to 4 from the 3-point range to pitch in 16 points as the Timberwolves relentlessly attacked the basket and went 31 to 40 from the foul line.
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The series shifts back to Memphis for Game 5 Tuesday night.
Desmond Bane, who hit his eighth 3-pointer at the buzzer to finish with 34 points, and Dillon Brooks with 24 points kept the Grizzlies going on yet another quiet night for star-point guard Ja Morant. Morant went 4 for 13 from the floor and had 11 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds.
Jaren Jackson Jr. failed out by seven points, and 25 of the Grizzlies’ 33 errors were called their starters.
Towns, who took four shots and had just eight points in Game 3, hit 14 of 17 free throws and were the catalyst down the stretch with 13 points in the fourth quarter.
Patrick Beverley missed two free throws with 43 seconds left. With the Wolves leading 115-110, Morant responded with a layup and Edwards missed a pull-up 3. But Tyus Jones got his 3-pointer to short with 10.5 seconds left and Edwards grabbed the rebound. He lowered both penalty throws while the crowd shouted, “Wolves in six! Wolves in six!”
McLaughlin’s first 3 put Minnesota in front in the second quarter to start a 17-1 run that maxed out with a 50-35 lead – the night’s biggest, being quickly cut down by the Grizzles back to single digits.
The Wolves could have been better placed to play a closer match this time after their par 25-point advantage in Game 3 went to naught.
Game 3 was an anomaly, given that the Timberwolves were only the ninth NBA team in 389 situations over the past 25 postseasons, leading by 25 plus points and losing the game, according to ESPN.
And even though it fits right into the Minnesota sports scene, which for decades has been filled with such disappointment, the audience did not stop creating a tremendous advantage on Saturday.
Troy Hudson and Wally Szczerbiak, standouts on the last Timberwolves team that captured the city in 2004, were at the farm with an endless supply of high-fives for fans sitting nearby.
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When Towns hit a 3 from the top of the key at the first possession, a jet-like roar followed.
Towns knew how critical the game was, and came out with a savagery suggesting he knew exactly how much criticism he had received for his Game 3 dud. When he hit his opening 3, he looked down at his hands and shouted to no one in particular about the importance of giving him the ball.
TUBE AND BLUES
Just crashed to the floor on almost every possession in what was perhaps the most physical game in the series to date. Morant, who has played his way through nagging leg injuries, took several hard landings after layup attempts.
Grizzlies backup Ziaire Williams suffered an eye injury in the second quarter when Morant made an obvious mistake on D’Angelo Russell as he drove to the hoop and got a hand in the face.
Edwards walked a bit in the first quarter with an injury to his right knee that was not related to any contact, but after having trouble going to the locker room for further investigation, he returned less than 3 minutes later with no problems.
Two more animal rights protesters tried to interrupt the game in the third quarter. A woman jumped over the seats of Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and his wife, Becky, before being attacked by the security guard and carried away. Her companion remained behind Taylor’s and next to the second row of Timberwolves assistant coaches, who helped with the safety of knocking her out.
The group has protested the way a chicken farm, part of Taylor’s companies, has allegedly dealt with an outbreak of bird flu. The highly contagious virus has killed about 28 million poultry.
Grizzlies: Xavier Tillman started at the center, the fourth player in a row for the Grizzlies in an opening halftime lineup that joined Jaren Jackson Jr. on the pitch, as coach Taylor Jenkins continued to use a variety of methods to try to take Towns out of his element. Brandon Clarke, Kyle Anderson and Steven Adams have all switched. Oks Brooks, who was listed as doubtful to play with a sore left foot, shot 10 for 20.
Timberwolves: Beverley had 17 points. … Jarred Vanderbilt had 12 points and eight rebounds.
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