HOUSTON (AP)Anthony Edwards scored 33 points, Karl-Anthony Towns added 28 and the Minnesota Timberwolves built a huge lead and held on for a 139-132 win over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night.
It’s the second straight victory for Minnesota, which is in seventh place in the Western Conference with three games remaining.
Towns was disappointed that the Wolves let Houston get back in it late.
”We have to understand that we didn’t play defense up to our standards,” he said. ”Mentally we were making too many mistakes. We’re not happy and proud of the showing that we gave tonight… but all in all we did get the win.”
The Timberwolves led by as many as 25 in the fourth and were up by 16 with about five minutes to go before Houston scored the next eight points, with five from Josh Christopher to get within 132-124 a couple of minutes later.
D’Angelo Russell made a layup for Minnesota before Towns added a basket to make it 136-126 with about a minute to go.
Houston coach Stephen Silas became irate at the officials for foul calls after that and went onto the court screaming at the referees and had to be restrained. He was issued two technical fouls and ejected from the game.
”I’m usually very good with the referees,” Silas said. ”Tonight was different.”
Alperen Sengun had been called for offensive fouls on consecutive possessions before Silas became enraged after a foul wasn’t called on a shot taken by Jalen Green. Towns lifted his arms above his head and yelled in the direction of the booing crowd as Silas was being led away.
Towns doesn’t care how Minnesota does it, but says there’s only one thing he’s looking for in the last week of the regular season.
”Wins. That’s it,” he said. ”That’s all we need is wins, no matter how it comes. How ugly, how nice, how cute or how bad. Just get a win and put ourselves in a position where we can be happy that we threw all our punches in the regular season and step into the postseason in a good headspace.”
The Timberwolves moved to 1 1/2 games behind sixth-place Utah.
Minnesota had a 25-point lead after a basket by Taurean Prince with about 9 minutes to go. Houston then went on a 17-6 run to get within 130-116 midway through the quarter. Christopher had 10 points, with two 3-pointers, to lead the Rockets in that stretch.
Green had 31 points for Houston and Christopher scored a career-high 30 off the bench as the Rockets dropped their fourth straight. Christopher was the main reason Houston made it close late as he scored 19 points in the fourth quarter.
Minnesota was up by 13 in the third quarter before using a 10-3 run to make it 98-78 with about 71/2 minutes left in the quarter. Towns got things going by scoring the first five points in that stretch and Russell capped the run with a 3-pointer.
Jae’Sean Tate got a layup for Houston after that before the Timberwolves scored the next eight points to extend the lead to 106-80 with five minutes remaining in the third.
Minnesota led 116-92 entering the fourth quarter.
Timberwolves: Patrick Beverley sat out with a sore ankle. … Jaden McDaniels missed the game with a sprained left ankle. … Russell added 22 points with nine assists.
Rockets: Sengun had 14 points and 15 rebounds in his return after sitting out two games with a bruised left leg. … Eric Gordon was out for the fifth consecutive game with right groin soreness. … Dennis Schroder missed a fourth game in a row with a sore left shoulder. … Christian Wood missed his fourth straight game with tightness in his left hamstring.
THEY SAID IT: Minnesota coach Chris Finch on his team scoring 39 points off 24 Houston turnovers: ”That’s great and if we’d get that every night I’d be really happy.”
Timberwolves: Host Washington Tuesday night.
Rockets: Visit Brooklyn Tuesday night.
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