Towns' season-high 40 points leads Minnesota over Houston
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HOUSTON (AP) Karl-Anthony Towns scored a season-high 40 points, D'Angelo Russell added 22 points and 10 assists and the Minnesota Timberwolves won their fourth straight game, beating the Houston Rockets 141-123 on Sunday night.
Towns scored 22 points in the first half as Minnesota built a 75-54 lead at the break.
"Just came in feeling very aggressive," Towns said. "I wanted to be aggressive tonight. . I've been trying to figure out the rhythm again after coming back from COVID, so just being aggressive. It felt like it was going to be a good night. I just tried to utilize that energy to the best of my advantage."
He finished 15 of 25 from the floor and added nine rebounds and seven assists.
"They didn't really have a matchup for him out there," Minnesota coach Chris Finch said. "He was really definitive in everything he was trying to do. He played strong, quick, nice and clean. He's still trying to play himself back into rhythm, and that's one of the keys is to keep everything simple."
Jarred Vanderbilt had career-highs of 21 points and 19 rebounds, Anthony Edwards had 19 points and six assists, and Malik Beasley scored 13 points for Minnesota. The Timberwolves shot 51%, including 56% in the first half, and were 15 for 42 on 3-pointers.
Minnesota, which scored a season high in points, scored 74 points in the paint and 31 fast-break points.
"I think we are trusting each other a little more," Russell said of the offense. "When we trust each other, I feel like we can get our rhythm throughout the game without even having to really work for it. We have guys on our team that force teams to really lock in on them defensively."
Christian Wood finished with 22 points and eight rebounds, Josh Christopher scored 19 points and Garrison Matthews had 14 points off the bench for Houston, which lost for the 10th time in 11 games.
"It wasn't a great effort, especially running back into transition," Houston coach Stephen Silas said of the team's defense. "A lot of that had to do with our offense - shot selection, turnovers, getting in and getting a layup or missing a layup and the other guys not supporting each other. Part of it was effort, it was a lack of cohesiveness tonight."
Eric Gordon scored 13 points, and Kenyon Martin Jr. had 13 points and seven rebounds for the Rockets, who shot 47% and were 14 for 43 on 3-pointers.
"When you look at the score and the fact that we gave up 30 each quarter, that's certainly disappointing," Silas said. "We have to continue to hammer home, continue to teach, continue to grow all these kids and grow the whole group to make sure that our future is bright. It definitely is, but sometimes to get to the brightness, you have to go through the darkness."
Leading 52-42 midway through the second quarter, the Timberwolves used a 23-8 run to push the lead to 25 points on two free throws by Towns with 1 1/2 minutes remaining in the first half. Russell had nine points in the run.
HE SAID IT
"All-Star caliber player, All-NBA caliber player. He's having an All-Star year. He's done that for us a couple times all season. You just give him the ball and count on him to get a bucket." - Finch on Towns and his ability to stop any rally Houston tried to start.
Timberwolves: G Patrick Beverley missed his second straight game with a sore right groin. . G Leandro Bolmaro missed a second straight game due to health and safety protocols. . Minnesota tied a season-high with 75 first-half points. . Jaylen Nowell scored 11 points.
Rockets: G Armoni Brooks was out of the lineup due to health and safety protocols. . C Alperen Sengun missed his fifth straight game with a right ankle sprain . F Usman Garuba (health and safety protocols) missed his fourth straight game. . Jalen Green and Jae'Sean Tate each scored 10 points.
Timberwolves: At New Orleans on Tuesday.
Rockets: Host Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.
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Updated January 9, 2022