MINNEAPOLIS (AP)Mitchell Robinson had 14 points and a season-high 18 rebounds, Julius Randle added 13 points and 15 boards, and the New York Knicks topped the short-handed Minnesota Timberwolves 96-88 on Tuesday night.
Evan Fournier scored 13 points, while Quentin Grimes added 11 off the bench for the Knicks in their second straight win.
On a night when both offenses struggled, Robinson was New York’s key player. His 14 points came on just eight shots. But it was his rebounding that coach Tom Thibodeau felt made the biggest difference.
”You can’t say enough about the way he played,” Thibodeau said. ”I thought his rebounding and Julius’ rebounding was huge for us.”
Malik Beasley had 20 points and Jaden McDaniels added a season-high 18 for Minnesota, which has lost three of four.
With stars Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell all out due to COVID-19 protocols, Minnesota was able to knock off Boston on Monday. With all three still unavailable one day later, the Wolves couldn’t repeat that performance against the Knicks, thanks in large part to poor shooting.
Minnesota shot just 40% from the floor and a season-low 18.4% (7 for 38) from 3-point range. Beasley was particularly cold from deep, hitting only 4 of 16.
”It was an off night. We had all the great looks we absolutely wanted,” said Timberwolves coach Chris Finch. ”Of those 38 shots, I’d say 30 of them were high quality by our best shooters.”
The Knicks didn’t shoot much better. Randle was just 5 for 20 and New York shot 41.1%, but did connect on 16 of 40 from deep. The Knicks also struggled to knock down free throws, hitting just 6 of 16 from the line.
RJ Barrett was one of many Knicks who struggled to shoot Tuesday, but he hit a big 3 with 4:11 left. With several Timberwolves players standing just out of bounds in the corner of the court a mere inches from Barrett, he knocked down a corner 3 to put New York up 88-81.
”I’m just happy that Coach is letting me get back into it,” said Barrett, in his second game back after missing six in a row due to health and safety protocols. ”First couple games, just trying to find my rhythm, trying to play within the team concepts and find my rhythm.”
New York went on a 10-0 run to start the second quarter but Minnesota responded with a run of its own. The Wolves outscored the Knicks 19-5 for the rest of the half to turn what was once a 17-point deficit into a 44-41 New York lead at halftime.
The Knicks put together another run in the third quarter to build up a sizable lead. New York outscored Minnesota 15-3 early in the third, including a pair of 3-pointers by Kemba Walker.
The Wolves had chances late to gain momentum but couldn’t come up with a timely play.
”It just didn’t go down our way down the stretch when we needed it,” Finch said.
STILL NOT READY
Edwards, Patrick Beverley, Naz Reid and Taurean Prince all cleared health and safety protocols before Tuesday’s game, but only Beverley and Reid played.
Although Edwards and Prince were cleared, Finch said they need a 48-hour ramp-up period. Both players did participate in individual workouts Tuesday but watched the game in street clothes.
”It’s very intricate and every situation is a little different based on their symptoms, based on their levels, etc.,” Finch said.
Beverley showed rust in his first game back, missing all eight of his shots from the floor.
Knicks: G Wayne Selden Jr. entered health and safety protocols prior to Tuesday’s game. . G Miles McBride rejoined the team Tuesday after being cleared from health and safety protocols.
Timberwolves: Finch challenged a foul call against McDaniels late in the second quarter, and the call was overturned. . Nathan Knight fouled out with 5:48 left in the game. He had eight points and seven rebounds.
Knicks: New York continues its four-game road trip Wednesday at Detroit.
Timberwolves: Minnesota begins a three-game West Coast road trip with a game Friday at Utah.