Karl-Anthony Towns scored 27 points and found Rudy Gobert for the tiebreaking dunk with 58.1 seconds left as the Minnesota Timberwolves survived a shaky fourth quarter and hung on for a 96-94 victory over the skidding Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night in New York.
The Wolves took control by outscoring the Nets 36-17 in the second quarter and never lost the lead the rest of the way. Minnesota nearly blew a 10-point lead by struggling to close it out in the final 6:51 before Towns and Gobert teamed up for the deciding play.
Brooklyn’s Cam Thomas hit two free throws to forge a 94-94 tie with 1:11 remaining and, on the next possession, Towns faked a 3-pointer from the left side before driving toward the rim. Gobert broke away from Brooklyn’s Nic Claxton, moved under the basket and turned the lob into a thunderous dunk for the game’s final points.
After Spencer Dinwiddie missed a jumper with 47.7 seconds left, Anthony Edwards also missed a jumper with 27.4 seconds left. Brooklyn nearly committed a shot clock violation, but Jaden McDaniels fouled Mikal Bridges with 2.4 seconds left.
After Bridges missed the first free throw, he purposely tried to miss the second, but the Nets were called for a lane violation and Brooklyn did not attempt to foul.
Towns made 12 of 15 shots and also grabbed 10 rebounds as the Wolves won for the sixth time in eight games. Edwards added 24 while Gobert finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds as the Wolves shot 49.3 percent and survived committing eight turnovers in the final 12 minutes.
Thomas scored 25 and Bridges added 21, but Brooklyn lost for the 12th time in 14 games and fell to 4-17 over its past 21 contests. Claxton finished with 16 points and 11 boards and Dinwiddie chipped in 14 points as the Nets shot 45.5 percent.
Claxton and Bridges combined for 15 points as the Nets shot 56.5 percent and held a 31-24 lead through the opening quarter. Minnesota outscored Brooklyn 23-8 over the final 6:57 of the second to turn a 3-point deficit into a 60-48 halftime lead after Mike Conley sank a 3-pointer with 5.4 seconds left.
A 3-pointer by Edwards gave the Wolves a 74-59 lead with 7:08 left and the Nets outscored Minnesota 15-7 over the rest of the third to get within 81-74 entering the fourth.