Timberwolves Knock the Knicks; First Winning Record in 13 Years
NEW YORK (AP) — Karl-Anthony Towns will finish with a winning record for the first time in his career.His Minnesota Timberwolves have much bigger goals, and a rough road ahead to achieve them.
"We have a lot more work to do and we have a lot more games in front of us that are just as important as tonight," Towns said.
The All-Star center had 24 points and 13 rebounds, and the Timberwolves clinched their first winning record in 13 years by beating the New York Knicks 108-104 on Friday night.
Taj Gibson scored 18 points, and Andrew Wiggins added 17 points and 11 rebounds to help the Wolves improve to 42-31. They came into the night tied with Utah for seventh place in the Western Conference. Nemanja Bjelica also had 17 points.
"I was 110 percent nervous because I knew the stakes," Gibson said. "I knew this was one of those games you really don't want to let go, just knowing how things are going in the standings and knowing there's so many games left to play."
The Timberwolves hadn't finished with a winning record since going 44-38 in 2004-05, the season after their last playoff appearance. Minnesota is trying to end the NBA's longest current postseason drought.
"We're trying to change things here," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We have to do it game by game, day by day and not skip over anything."
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored a career-high 39 points for the Knicks, who have dropped two in a row after winning two straight following a nine-game losing streak. Enes Kanter had 11 points and 15 rebounds.
Minnesota led by as much as 16 and never trailed in the first half, but ended up with a tough time.
The Knicks cut it to nine by halftime, then came back with Trey Burke and Frank Ntilikina as the starting backcourt and an unusually strong start to the third quarter that mostly gives them fits.
Hardaway opened it with a 3-pointer a converted a go-ahead three-point play during what became a 15-0 run to open the second half and give New York a 63-57 lead. He scored 19 in the third quarter.
"Just trying to do anything I can to put my team on my back and just carry the young guys out there on the floor," Hardaway said. "I think we did a great job of getting stops defensively and using that to our advantage and pushing the pace."
Jamal Crawford settled the Wolves down and shot them back into the lead midway through the period, and Minnesota took an 84-82 edge to the fourth.
The Wolves regained control with a 14-5 surge that made it 101-89 on Towns' three-point play, but Hardaway had one last push that cut it to four in the closing minutes.