Karl-Anthony Towns responded to one of the worst performances of his postseason career with 33 points Saturday night and the Minnesota Timberwolves evened their playoff series against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies with a 119-118 victory in Game 4.
Towns hit two clinching free throws with 4.4 seconds remaining to ice the victory.
Towns, whose eight-point effort in a home loss in Game 3 equaled the second-fewest of his playoff career, rebounded with a postseason career-high in helping the seventh-seeded Timberwolves square the series at 2-2.
Unlike two nights earlier, when the Timberwolves blew a big fourth-quarter lead, they managed to hold on this time thanks to stingy defense down the stretch.
After Jarred Vanderbilt turned a D’Angelo Russell assist into a dunk for a 113-107 lead with 2:47 remaining, Minnesota scored just two more points until Anthony Edwards hit two free throws with 8.3 seconds to go.
In the meantime, the Grizzlies had four opportunities to tie or gain a late lead, but they missed two shots and a free throw before Tyus Jones missed from 3-point range with Memphis down just 115-112 with 10.5 seconds left.
The Grizzlies were forced to foul Edwards, whose two foul shots capped a 24-point night.
Dillon Brooks and Desmond Bane hit subsequent desperation 3-pointers, but Towns nailed his two foul shots to provide the Timberwolves a cushion.
Towns contributed to two difference-making areas for the Timberwolves, with 3-for-5 success on 3-pointers and 14-for-17 at the free-throw line.
Minnesota outscored the guests 54-45 on 3-pointers, making 18 of 36, and 31-19 at the foul line, getting 40 opportunities to the Grizzlies’ 25.
All five Minnesota starters scored in double figures, with Patrick Beverley (17 points), Vanderbilt (12) and Russell (10) joining Towns and Edwards. Jordan McLaughlin chipped in with 16 points off the bench, while Towns completed a double-double with a team-high 14 rebounds.
Grizzlies standout Ja Morant was held to a postseason career-low 11 points. He took just 13 shots, making four, while spending much of his night in ball-distribution mode, racking up a game-high 15 assists.
Making eight 3-pointers in 12 tries, Bane paced the Grizzlies with 34 points. Brooks added 24, Brandon Clarke 15 and Jones 13.
Minnesota held the game’s biggest lead at 52-37 with 4:47 remaining in the second quarter.
But befitting a trend in the series, Memphis countered immediately with 10 straight points, setting up a tight second half.
–Field Level Media