KAT shines in return, leads Wolves to 125-124 win over Atlanta

Towns scores 22, game-winning free throws in return

Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) works past Atlanta Hawks forward De'Andre Hunter (12) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

MINNEAPOLIS–Karl-Anthony Towns played in his first game action Wednesday evening after missing the past 51 games with a calf injury and looked spectacular, scoring 22 points in 26 minutes–including the game-winning free throws–in a 125-124 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday evening.

Trailing by a point, Jaden McDaniels grabbed a rebound with seven seconds remaining to keep the Timberwolves alive. Minnesota got the ball to Towns, who was fouled while attempting to drive to the basket for the game-winner. Atlanta attempted to challenge the call but was unsuccessful and Towns knocked down both of the free throws to put the Timberwolves in front with under four seconds remaining.

The Hawks had one last opportunity to respond for the win, but DeAndre Hunter’s shot was no good and the Wolves held on for the victory.

The Hawks opened the fourth quarter on a 12-4 run, extending their lead to 11 points behind Saddiq Bey, who scored 16 points off the bench.

The Wolves weren’t done. Behind back-to-back turnovers by the Hawks, McDaniels had a fast break dunk and Reid hit a 3-pointer cutting Atlanta’s lead to 3 points, 111-108. The Hawks called timeout with 6:13 remaining in the game

On the ensuing possession, Taurean Prince drove to the basket and converted an and-1, tying the ballgame up at 111. After both teams exchanged baskets, Reid finished a layup to give his team the lead and put him at a game-high 26 points.

Rudy Gobert followed Reid’s basket with a put back dunk, prompting the Hawks to call timeout afterwards.

The Hawks went on a 6-0 run to recapture the lead at 122-121 with just 78 seconds remaining. Mike Conley came down and hit a jumper to put Minnesota back in front by one but Young would get fouled and hit both free throws putting Atlanta back up by one. Both teams had empty possessions and the Wolves rebounded the ball with seven seconds left down by one

Towns got off to a strong start. A pair of back-to-back 3-pointers and some second-chance points helped him to score 8 of the Timberwolves’ first 16 points.

The Hawks responded by making five of their first seven 3-pointers. DeAndre Hunter hit two, leading the Hawks with 10 first-quarter points.

Both teams shot lights out in the first quarter with the Timberwolves shooting 50% from the field and the Hawks shooting 70%. Minnesota and Atlanta combined for 79 first-quarter points with Atlanta holding a 1-point lead.

The second quarter started off sluggish as both teams struggled to find an offensive rebound. Jaden McDaniels and Naz Reid got the Wolves going and helped secure a 67-62 halftime lead for Minnesota. McDaniels led the Wolves with 15 points and Reid had 11 points at the half

The Wolves slowed down the Hawks’ offense and limited them to 22 second-quarter points. Trae Young and John Collins paced the Hawks’ scoring. Young had 16 points at the half while Collins had 14 points.

Kat opened the 3rd quarter by hitting a midrange jumper and giving the Wolves a 7-point lead, their largest of the game.

The Hawks responded again with a barrage of 3-pointers. They outscored Minnesota 35-25 for the remainder of the period to take a 3-point lead into the final frame.

Gobert had a team-high 12 rebounds and also scored 12 points.

Up next

Minnesota (37-37) plays Golden State on Sunday.

Atlanta (36-37) returns home against Indiana on Saturday.


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