Karl-Anthony Towns should be last to blame for Timberwolves loss

Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves gave the seventh-seeded Los Angeles Lakers all they could handle on Tuesday night in the first Western Conference play-in game. After dominating for most of the evening, the Wolves’ offense sputtered down the stretch and allowed LA to rally back.

Going down 15 points in the second half, the Lakers surged back in the fourth quarter and Minnesota could not find a way to stop the bleeding with Anthony Edwards having an uncharacteristic bad game. Heading to the locker room after taking a spill and landing on his shoulder in the third, Ant started the game slow but seemed to be even more hampered after his scary fall.

At the end of the night, it was same story, different day for the Timberwolves. They gave up a double-digit lead in the second half for a league-leading 18th time this season. It was also their fourth straight postseason game where they gave up a double-digit second half advantage, dating back to last season.

However, given the circumstances while playing without Naz Reid, Rudy Gobert, and Jaden McDaniels, it is hard to be too disappointed in this group. They pushed a red-hot Lakers team that owns the best-record in the Western Conference since the trade deadline to the absolute limit, and gave the fans at Crypto.com Arena quite a scare.

Timberwolves fans should be thanking Karl-Anthony Towns.

And more specifically, the last player that should be criticized for the Wolves’ collapse is Karl-Anthony Towns. Leading the team in scoring while looking like the best player on the floor for much of the first half, KAT was the primary reason Minnesota was in the driver’s seat for the majority of the game.

Exhibiting his versatile scoring prowess while showing off his passing chops as well, Towns put up a team-high 24 points on 8-for-12 shooting, along with five assists and three blocks. In the first 24 minutes, he was outplaying even LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

What threw him off his game in the second half was foul trouble, something Head Coach Chris Finch alluded to in his postgame comments. “He was in a heck of a rhythm until they whistled him to the bench,” said Finch.

With 10 minutes left in the contest, KAT was called for his fifth foul while boxing out Anthony Davis for a rebound. From there, he was forced to play more conservatively and his impact was hindered down the stretch.

Even so, Karl-Anthony Towns came up big for the most part at the most crucial juncture of the Timberwolves’ season. Averaging 25.7 points and 11 rebounds over his last four postseason games for Minnesota, he is the last player that should be catching blame for Tuesday night’s loss.

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