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Timberwolves come up short in Towns’ return

By Michael Marot

AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Malcolm Brogdon made a tiebreaking 16-footer with 18 seconds left and T.J. Warren scored 28 points night to help the Indiana Pacers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 116-114.

Indiana has won four straight including two in the past three days against the Timberwolves, earning their first season sweep in the series since 2015-16.

Two-time All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns had 27 points in 28 minutes after missing the previous 15 games with a sprained left knee. Andrew Wiggins added 22 points but missed two chances in the final minute to give Minnesota the lead. Shabazz Napier also came up short on a 3-pointer with 8 seconds to go as the Timberwolves lost their fourth in a row.

But the Timberwolves sure made Indiana sweat it out.

After Napier tied the score at 88 with a long 2-pointer with 4:37 left in the third quarter, the Pacers closed the period on an 11-5 run and outscored Minnesota 8-3 early in the fourth to take a 107-96 lead with 8:12 left.

Again, Minnesota fought back, finally tying the score at 114 on two free throws from Towns with 1:48 to go. But the Wolves never scored again.

The referees ruled Towns stepped out of bounds as his potential go-ahead 3 went through the net with 1:16 left. Wiggins then missed a layup on a fast break and later turned the ball over when he was ruled out of bounds with 31 seconds to go.

That gave Brogdon a chance to break the tie.

And Napier hit nothing but air on another 3 on Minnesota’s final shot of the game.

HE’S BACK

Admittedly, coach Ryan Saunders played it safe with Towns, who last played Dec. 13.

He said the Timberwolves would limit Towns’ minutes and closely monitor his fatigue level.

Towns wound up 9 of 21 from the field with three 3s and should see his minutes increase as he gets back in shape.

“You always want to have a full complement of players and when you have a guy who is as productive as KAT is, you always want that guy out there,” Saunders said.

TIP-INS

Timberwolves: Josh Okogie had 15 points while Napier and Jarrett Culver each scored 12. … Jordan McLaughlin had nine points and three 3s, all in the first half.

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