Timberwolves, Without Towns for First Time in 304 Games, Top Knicks

Timberwolves, Without Towns for First Time in 304 Games, Top Knicks

February 24, 2019

Taj Gibson did not know when he drove by an accident back in Minnesota on Thursday that Karl-Anthony Towns had been involved.

Gibson greeted his teammate with a hug when he saw him in New York, relieved Towns was O.K. Then Gibson helped the Timberwolves win the first time they had to play without Towns in 304 games.

Derrick Rose scored 20 points against his former team, Gibson added a season-high 19, and Minnesota overcame the first missed game of Towns’s profession career to beat the host Knicks, 115-104, on Friday night.

“It’s tough, but it just shows the resiliency that this team has, the number of guys that can step up,” Gibson said.

Towns’s streak of 303 starts was snapped when he was placed in the concussion protocol after the accident. Towns, the top overall draft pick in 2015, was able to fly to New York after the accident, but was ruled out after further medical examination on Friday.

His streak of starts was the longest to begin a career since the N.B.A. began keeping track of starts in 1970-71. He just appeared in his second straight All-Star Game and would have been playing not far from where he grew up in New Jersey had he not been hurt.

Towns was at the arena but was prevented from playing by league rules once in the concussion protocol. The Wolves’ next game is Saturday at Milwaukee, and Towns would have to clear the return-to-participation steps before he could return.

In Towns’s absence, Andrew Wiggins added 17 points after missing Minnesota’s two victories leading into the All-Star break with an illness, and Anthony Tolliver came off the bench for a season-high 16 points.

“Lean on whoever,” Timberwolves Coach Ryan Saunders said. “Wherever the contribution comes from, we will take it.”

Damyean Dotson and Allonzo Trier each scored 20 points for the Knicks in their 18th straight home loss. DeAndre Jordan added 16 points and 19 rebounds.

Dotson made five 3-pointers and scored 18 points in the first quarter, when the Knicks also got an emphatic dunk from Dennis Smith Jr. and led by 33-29. But the Wolves largely controlled the game from there, though the Knicks did trim the deficit to single digits with about four minutes to play. But the Knicks could not overcome their 23 turnovers, which led to 20 Minnesota points.

“I don’t know if it was rust or whatever, but we can’t use the break as an excuse,” said Emmanual Mudiay, who returned for the Knicks after missing 12 games with a strained left shoulder and had 15 points and 6 rebounds. “We were just throwing the ball everywhere.”

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