The Minnesota Timberwolves defeated the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night, 106-105. Karl-Anthony Towns scored 27 points, Andrew Wiggins added 23, Ricky Rubio tallied five to go with his 11 assists. Nemanja Bjelica and Shabazz Muhammad spearheaded a solid performance from the bench as they combined for 23 points on 9-of-19 shooting. The Wolves have now won three straight games for the first time since late-November.
Bjelica scored 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting (2-of-3 3PT), tallied 10 rebounds and five assists in just over 30 minutes of playing time. He, Muhammad, Tyus Jones and Tayshaun Prince combined for 34 points. Each of these players finished with a positive plus-minus rating.
Fouled as he made a 3-pointer that tied the game with 3.5 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Damian Lillard knocked down the ensuing free throw attempt to issue Portland a one point lead, 105-104.
On the next possession the Wolves inbounded the ball to Towns, who made one move before hoisting up what would ultimately go down as the game winner with 1.8 seconds left to play.
Towns knew his game winning right-hook shot was good from the moment it left his hand. “All I knew is that I had to make the basket for my teammates,” he told The AP’s Malika Andrews after the game. “I’ve hit a lot of those right-hooks in my career. I knew it was good when I went up.”
“He’s had an amazing rookie season,” Mitchell said of Towns, as reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. “After about 40 games, we were waiting for him to hit that elusive rookie wall and I would talk to him about it and he would say, `Coach, I’m not going to hit it.'”
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, who should receive serious consideration to win Coach of the Year honors, gave props to the Wolves for how they’ve played since losing to Dallas at home last Sunday.
“Give credit to Minnesota. They played well,” Stotts said. “They’ve been playing well lately. They got momentum, they made big shots and they made big plays. So it’s a disappointing loss.”[NBA.com, Star Tribune]