Towns, Wiggins help Wolves race past Hawks, 125-113
ATLANTA (AP) — Minnesota coach Ryan Saunders moved Jeff Teague out of the starting lineup to give the reserves more scoring punch.
The Timberwolves reserves responded, scoring 46 points in a 125-113 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.
The idea to move Teague to the bench wasn’t that of Saunders alone. He said he and the former Hawks guard have been talking about it for some time. “We talked earlier. It’s more about who ends games, too,” Saunders said. “Jeff Teague is a professional and he’s a man. It came about with him and I having a casual conversation. He said, ‘I’m good with whatever role you want me in.’ He saw and agreed that there was a need in that second unit.”
Teague had eight points and eight assists. Reserves Keita Bates-Diop and Gorgui Dieng each scored 13.
“Gorgui was amazing. ... When he’s given the opportunity, he goes out and makes magic happen,” said Karl-Anthony Towns, who scored 28 points and had 13 rebounds for Minnesota. “Jeff (Teague) is just a pro. He’s an amazing guy to have in the locker room. We’re in this to win. We’re not about individual accolades.”
Andrew Wiggins added 25 points and the Minnesota Timberwolves rode three big offensive quarters.
Trae Young scored 37 points for the Hawks, who outscored the Timberwolves 34-16 in the second quarter. But Minnesota had 38 points in the first quarter, 39 in the third and 32 in the fourth against one of the NBA’s weakest defensive teams and snapped a two-game skid.
Jabari Parker pitched in 22 points for the Hawks and rookie center Bruno Fernando scored a career-high 13.
The Timberwolves shot 63.6% in the first quarter and opened a 40-30 lead early in the second, but missed 15-of-19 shots over the rest of the period.
Young scored 14 points in the quarter while Hawks attacked the basket frequently and had 21 points and seven assists — several on alley-oop lob passes — by halftime, leading Atlanta to a 64-54 lead.
Towns heated up after halftime to pull the Timberwolves back into the game. In the third quarter alone, he had 15 points, eight rebounds and three assists to help Minnesota take a 93-90 lead to the fourth quarter.
Other than in that second quarter, the youngish Atlanta squad frequently busted defensive assignments, such as when they were double-teaming Anthony in the third quarter.
“We had a lot of undisciplined play,” said Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce. “We were leaving strong-side shooters (open), we were double-teaming in the post when we weren’t in that coverage. It was the lack of discipline on a lot of our defensive possessions that got us in trouble . . .
“Blitzing KAT in the second half wasn’t the plan and because there were some cross matches, guys just overacted to the situation and we got caught with him hitting the cutter a couple times . . . At this stage, every game has a different personality.”
TIMBERWOLVES: Rookie Jarrett Culver started at guard rather than former Hawk Jeff Teague. They played together at times. ... Frequent starter Noah Vonleh did play, and was not listed on the pregame injury report. ... Guard Shabazz Napier (hamstring) and forward Jake Layman (toe sprain) remain sidelined.
HAWKS: Guard Cam Reddish returned after missing two games with a sprained left wrist and started to bump DeAndre’ Bembry back to the bench. They’ve been tag-teaming in place of Kevin Huerter, who remains sidelined with a sprained rotator cuff in his left shoulder. The rookie from Duke continues to struggle to find his shot. Reddish scored seven points on 2-of-10 shooting, one of them a fast-break alley-oop dunk off a pass from Young. ... Parker has scored at least 10 points in 16-of-17 games. His minutes have risen with the absence of John Collins, who is suspended. ... Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson sat courtside.
TIMBERWOLVES: Play at San Antonio Wednesday.
HAWKS: Play at Milwaukee Wednesday.
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