By DAVE CAMPBELL – AP Sportswriter
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — This is Karl-Anthony Towns’ seventh season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, his status well established as a franchise player for that long-languishing organization.
For the first time in his NBA career, Towns often said he felt fully appreciated.
His latest feat was nothing short of breathtaking: a franchise-record 60 points in a 149-139 win at San Antonio on Monday night. Cities also did it in just 36 minutes.
“He’s just so talented. He’s exactly that type of player,” said teammate D’Angelo Russell. “You look up and see 60 and the whole team happy. It’s just that everyone is disinterested in this. I think that was more what I enjoyed. The performance was amazing, but everyone wanted to see it too.
As Towns conducted a post-game television interview on the pitch, several teammates snuck up behind him and mischievously sprayed water on his head to mark the most points scoring opportunity by a player in the NBA this season.
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The Timberwolves, from the bench to the locker room, cheered each other on with childlike enthusiasm and selflessness unparalleled in team history.
“I appreciate it so much, because I’ve never been celebrated,” said Towns, whose previous career high was a 56-point game against Atlanta on March 28, 2018. “They make those moments special.”
Affable and emotional, Towns is known to speak in hyperbole like this. The difference in chemistry with this team compared to the others he played with in Minnesota is clear. Towns also emerged from two grueling seasons dealing with injuries and, of course, COVID-19. Her mother died of complications from the virus in 2020.
As Towns noted poignantly on Twitter Tuesday morning, his 60-point game was two years to the day that her mother, Jackie Cruz-Towns, was hospitalized in New Jersey with COVID-19.
“I just had a stronger guardian angel than I’ve ever had,” Towns said. “I feel like I was groomed for success by God. I really can’t explain it. I just feel like I was primed for success this year after everything I’ve been through, just with this group of guys around. I’ve never had this kind of camaraderie and unity and chemistry since college. For everyone, from one to 15, to accept everything that we do, it makes years like this possible.
Towns, who became the rare post player to win the NBA 3-point contest on All-Star Weekend last month, helped the Timberwolves (40-30) solidify their hold on seventh place in the league. Western Conference. That would keep them at home for the qualifying tournament if they didn’t catch sixth-place Denver (41-28).
The Timberwolves have won two of three games against the Nuggets this season, with a visit to Denver on April 1 looming. At 10 games above .500, it was their best in four years, finishing the 2017-18 season at 47-35. It’s the only time they’ve made the playoffs since 2004, when Towns was 8 years old.
“People clearly see how incredibly talented KAT is and what he is capable of, and they also see that there will be nights where he will take maybe eight or 10 shots and do whatever the game has to offer. needs, whether it’s a rebound, a defensive presence in there.” Coach Chris Finch said. “He responds really well to his teammates. He’s a guy like all of us: we need the confidence of our teammates to be our best version of ourselves.
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