Towns, Wiggins shine as Timberwolves top Pelicans
By Patrick Donnelly
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Karl-Anthony Towns had 25 points and 16 rebounds, Andrew Wiggins scored 23 and the Minnesota Timberwolves improved to 2-0 since trading Jimmy Butler with a 107-100 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.
Jeff Teague added 14 points and 14 assists for the Timberwolves.
E’Twaun Moore scored a season-high 31 and Anthony Davis had 29 points and 11 rebounds for the Pelicans, who had won three straight.
Minnesota led 52-31 early in the second quarter but the Pelicans chipped away, cutting their deficit to 13 at halftime and just four going into the fourth quarter.
The Timberwolves scored the first seven points of the period to stretch their lead to 92-81, but New Orleans responded with a 15-2 run to take its first lead of the game on a 12-foot jumper by Jrue Holiday.
Wiggins’ 3-pointer put the Wolves back on top and Towns followed with a three-point play to give Minnesota some breathing room.
Then with 2 minutes to go, Towns, playing with five fouls, blocked Davis’ layup attempt and fed Wiggins on the other end for a thunderous dunk. Wiggins was fouled as well, and his free throw put Minnesota up 105-98.
The game was Minnesota’s first with forwards Robert Covington and Dario Saric. They were acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers along with injured guard Jerryd Bayless in exchange for the disgruntled Butler.
The trade was completed Monday, meaning Covington and Saric did not join their new teammates in time for the Timberwolves’ 120-113 victory over Brooklyn that night.
Covington started Wednesday, scoring 13 points and grabbing seven rebounds. He drained a pair of long, catch-and-shoot 3s in the third quarter as the Timberwolves were trying to hold off a Pelicans comeback.
Saric came off the bench to contribute 9 points and three boards in 20 minutes.
Towns had 15 points and nine rebounds in the first quarter as Minnesota raced out to a 38-28 lead, shooting 55.6 percent from the field and hitting 6 of 11 3-pointers in the process.
Pelicans: C Nikola Mirotic returned after missing two games with a right ankle sprain. He had 16 points and 10 boards. . Head coach Alvin Gentry said PG Elfrid Payton is close to returning from his own right ankle sprain, but he sat out his ninth straight game.
Timberwolves: The win was Minnesota’s fifth straight against New Orleans. . G Derrick Rose (left knee soreness) did not dress after playing 39 minutes in the win over Brooklyn on Monday. Rose is averaging 19.2 points and 4.8 assists per game this season. . Teague played for the second time in three days after missing six games with a bruised left knee.
Pelicans: Host the New York Knicks on Friday night.
Timberwolves: Host the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.