Wiggins, Wolves hold off late charge by hapless Suns, 121-116
MINNEAPOLIS — Andrew Wiggins scored 32 points, Karl-Anthony Towns added 27 points and 10 boards and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Phoenix Suns 121-116 on Monday night.
Wiggins needed just 13 field goal attempts to score his points. He made 17 of 21 free throws and 3 of 5 3-pointers as the Wolves won for the third time in their last four games. Minnesota shot 50.6 percent and turned 21 Suns turnovers into 26 points.
Devin Booker scored 12 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter as the Suns mounted a furious comeback from 20 down. Brandon Knight scored 30 points and tied a career high with seven 3-pointers, but the Suns lost for the eighth time in their last 11 games.
Much like the last game in Phoenix, when the Suns went small to rally and beat the Wolves on a last-second 3 from Mirza Teletovic, coach Earl Watson employed a similar lineup to force Wolves coach Sam Mitchell to remove stalwart big man Gorgui Dieng.
A 23-4 run trimmed a 20-point deficit to one point midway through the fourth quarter and Booker hit a 3 for a 112-110 lead with under 3 minutes to play.
But Ricky Rubio hit a big 3 and got a crucial steal to create a layup for Zach LaVine for a 117-112 lead with 90 seconds to play.
The Suns had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds, but Teletovic rushed a turnaround 3 in the corner and the Wolves hung on. Rubio had 17 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds.
Teletovic scored 19 points and Alex Len had 14 points and 13 boards.
Towns and Booker played together at Kentucky last season and are close friends. Towns has been named the Western Conference's top rookie in each of the first four months of the season, but the baby-faced Booker has put together an impressive March to try to end his buddy's streak.
Towns tried to put that debate to a rest early, racking up 18 points on nine shots in the period.
Towns put on a show, blowing by Jon Leuer before elevating, switching the ball from his left hand to his right in the air and dunking over Teletovic. Towns completed the three-point play and also had five assists as he continues to steamroll to the Rookie of the Year award.
Suns: Leuer, a Minnesota native, fought off an illness and played 11 minutes. ... C Tyson Chandler played after being questionable with back spasms, but was limited to 19 minutes because of foul trouble. ... It was Knight's fifth 30-point game of the season. ... The Suns are among the three worst teams in the league, with a .270 winning percentage — better only than the Lakers (.203) and the 76ers (.122).
Timberwolves: Towns' 18 points in the first quarter were the most by a Wolves player in a quarter all season. ... Mitchell said before the game he's given thought to resting Towns, Wiggins and LaVine some down the stretch after the three youngsters have played so many minutes over the last two months. But so far he believes they want to play out the season.
Suns: Visit Milwaukee on Wednesday.
Timberwolves: Host Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.