Karl-Anthony Towns hit a 3-pointer — on the same floor where he won the 3-point contest during NBA All-Star Weekend — with 11.8 seconds left and the Minnesota Timberwolves survived Cleveland’s comeback for a 127-122 win over the Cavaliers on Monday night.
Towns’ first 3 of the game helped the Timberwolves hang on after blowing a 23-point third-quarter lead. One of the league’s best outside shooters, the 7-footer became the first center to win the 3-point contest, defeating seven guards.
D’Angelo Russell scored 25 points and Towns had 17 as Minnesota handed Cleveland its first home loss in nearly two months.
Kevin Love led the Cavaliers with 26 points and Jarrett Allen had 21. Cleveland’s trying to scrape by without All-Star guard Darius Garland, who is sidelined with a bone bruise, along with guards Rajon Rondo (sprained toe) and Caris LeVert (sprained foot).
Jaden McDaniels made a career-high five 3s and scored 17 points and Anthony Edwards added 17 for the Timberwolves, who opened the third quarter with a 26-7 run and built a 98-75 lead with 2:44 left in the third.
The Cavs, who have had to persevere through major injuries all season, wouldn’t quit.
Cleveland battled all the way back and tied it 122-all on Cedi Osman’s 3-pointer with 33.8 seconds left.
Osman was way off with a 3-pointer with 4.6 seconds to go and Russell iced the win with two free throws.
Cleveland lost at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse for the first time since Jan. 4, ending an eight-game win streak.
Timberwolves: G Malik Beasley (illness) returned after missing one game. … G McKinley Wright IV (left elbow) and G Leando Bolmaro (G League assignment with Iowa) were inactive. … Coach Chris Finch spent two seasons in the G League, taking Rio Grande to the finals both years. “I believe it’s the third-best league in the world behind the EuroLeague,” Finch said. “It’s one of the best things the NBA has ever done.”
Cavaliers: Didn’t get a rebound for the first 9:50 of the second quarter. … Allen has a career-high 31 double-doubles, tying him for the third most in the East with Philadelphia’s James Harden. … Love holds the Timberwolves record with 190 3-pointers in a season, set eight years ago. He spent his first six seasons with Minnesota.
Coach J.B. Bickerstaff ramped up the canine connection last weekend by awarding a bejeweled “Junkyard Dog” chain to Isaac Okoro for his shut-down defense in a win over Washington. The award will be given to a Cavs player after each victory.
“It’s cool,” said Mobley, who believes the chain will be an incentive. “I feel like guys will go even harder.”
Timberwolves: Host Golden State on Tuesday.
Cavaliers: Host Charlotte on Wednesday.