By TYLER MASON – Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Karl-Anthony Towns had 27 points and 13 rebounds as the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Portland Trail Blazers in double digits for the second time in three days, 124-81 on Monday night.
Malik Beasley added 19 points, and Naz Reid had 18 points and 11 rebounds off the bench for Minnesota.
Towns’ performance was under three quarters as he and most of the Minnesota starters stayed on the bench in the fourth and held the game well. Towns joined the home crowd and waved from the bench as the Timberwolves fans celebrated their team’s overwhelming victory. Wolves guard Patrick Beverley added some extra fun by throwing t-shirts into the crowd in the fourth quarter.
“It is an excellent sports city. We just have to give them a reason to keep coming out,” said Timberwolves coach Chris Finch. “This is a team that a lot of people like to see play. … It feels like something is growing here and we just need to keep building on it.
Monday’s game came two days after the Wolves defeated Portland at Target Center by 15 points. Towns had 36 points in that win.
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Timberwolves fans who have endured years of losing seasons have continued to embrace their team as wins piled up.
“That’s what drives us, the excitement they bring,” Reid said of the crowd. “Even when we talk to each other on the bench, we hear you. We may not say anything, but we hear you. We definitely appreciate that.”
Brandon Williams led the Trail Blazers with 27 points. Portland has lost five straight games after winning four straight games.
Unlike Saturday, when Portland led the second half, Minnesota left no doubt about Monday’s outcome. Wolves never let up en route to the 43-point loss.
“I sat at this mic a few nights ago. Obviously we lost the game and I felt good about us,” said Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups. “I felt good about our performance. I felt good about how hard we played, how hard we fought. Of course I have a different feeling today.”
Both teams had to do without important players on Monday. D’Angelo Russell, who had 14 points and 15 assists against Portland on Saturday, was absent with bilateral hamstring pain. Anthony Edwards missed his fourth straight game with a left knee injury.
Portland were missing Anfernee Simons, who scored a game-high 38 points against Minnesota on Saturday. The fourth-year guard has averaged 17.3 ppg this season and missed the game with a left quadriceps bruise.
Jaylen Nowell left the game at 1:31 of the first half after being hit in the face by Josh Hart’s elbow. His injury was announced as a bruised nose and he missed the second half.
Finch said Nowell could have returned to the game, but Minnesota chose not to risk it.
Ahead of Monday’s game, Towns was named Western Conference Player of the Week. In four games over the past week, Towns averaged 28.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists as the Timberwolves won all four games during the stretch.
It is the second time this season and the sixth time in Towns’ career that he has been named Player of the Week.
“He played at the All-NBA level,” Finch said of Towns. “I think he’s up the MVP ladder now.”
Trail Blazers: Rookies Trendon Watford and Brandon Williams made their first career starts for the Shorthanded Blazers on Monday.
Timberwolves: G McKinley Wright IV joined the G-League’s Iowa Wolves on Monday.
Trail Blazers: Play in Utah on Wednesday for the final game of a four-game trip.
Timberwolves: Host Oklahoma City on Wednesday for a three-game homestand.
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