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Houston's Chris Paul came back from a six-turnover performance in Game 1, delivering an acrobatic 27-point, eight-assist night for the Rockets while Karl-Anthony Towns finished with just five points for the Wolves.
With no back-to-back games in the playoffs, star players can see more minutes.
Held to eight points in Game 1 vs. Houston, Karl-Anthony Towns spoke repeatedly Tuesday about maintaining "discipline" and following "the game plan."
Seven years ago, Derrick Rose was coming off a league MVP season just as Butler was entering the NBA as a rookie. Now it's all changed.
Rockets superstar James Harden toyed with the Timberwolves often Sunday, scoring 25 of his 44 points in the game's final 18 minutes while making seven three-pointers.
James Harden scored 44 points on 15-for-24 shooting in leading the Rockets to a 104-101 victory while Karl-Anthony Towns took only nine shots and scored eight points.
The NBA playoffs are all about deciding what to give the opponent and what to take away, and Houston didn't let Karl-Anthony Towns get good looks at three-pointers in Game 1.
Some former high-school teammates and an assistant principal temporarily have become Wolves fans because Jimmy Butler has come home for the playoffs.
It's one thing to beat an opponent one time, such as in the NCAA tournament. It's quite another thing to do so four times after both sides have had days before — and in between — to prepare for their opponents.
In the playoffs for the first time in 14 years, the undaunted Wolves face the No. 1-seed Rockets with a goal to "shock the world."
After getting no help from other teams around the West, the Timberwolves must earn a playoffs spot themselves to end 14-year drought. The Denver Nuggets stand in their way.
There was no doubt Jimmy Butler's teammates started to show the burden borne during Butler's absence, both because of their increased workload without him and the loss of Butler's sheer will.
Can Jimmy Butler's return after 17 games convince the Wolves' younger players — enigmatic Andrew Wiggins, to name one — just what it takes to win with playoff spots on the line?
Jimmy Butler hasn't played since he partially tore the meniscus in his knee Feb. 23.
The Wolves built leads of eight points in the second and third quarters, but gave it up in the final minutes with Karl-Anthony Towns on the bench after fouling out.
Winning last four will go far, but playoff tiebreakers, other factors can seal fates.
Already missing guard Jimmy Butler for the past 16 games, the Timberwolves went two starters down Sunday when point guard Jeff Teague didn't play because of a sore knee in a 121-97 loss to Utah.
Utah's Ricky Rubio hits five three-pointers and scored 23 points on a night when the Wolves lacked "intensity" and "execution" during an important game in the NBA playoff scramble.
The Timberwolves suffered a lopsided loss at the hands of the Jazz Sunday, which may have big playoff implications.
The Jazz has won two of its past three games, three of its past five and 12 of its past 15 after Friday's 107-97 home victory over a Memphis team that won Monday at Target Center.
Towns joined eight other players — including Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal — who reached at least 55 points and 15 rebounds in an NBA game.
Mike Budenholzer found the All-Star center's three-point shooting particularly eye-opening.
Jeff Teague played 42 minutes and fellow starters Taj Gibson and Andrew Wiggins played 43 minutes each and Karl-Anthony Towns 39 in a game when the Wolves shot 3-for-17 and were outscored 23-11 in the fourth quarter.
The Ryder Cup is returning to the Twin Cities in 2028 at the same course where the world's premier international golf event enjoyed so much success in 2016.
After missing almost as many free throws as he made in December, Andrew Wiggins is getting to the line more -- and showing some improvement.
Together, they have no definitive answers, but just like you the Timberwolves wonder why they have fared so well in Western Conference play and struggled so against the East.
Effects of the profession are showing in health issues across the league.
By surviving on the road against a struggling team, they clinched their first winning season since 2005.
By ending a two-game losing streak to San Antonio and Houston, the Wolves put three games between them and the Clippers.
Jamal Crawford, who turned 38 on Tuesday, has played for 18 coaches in 18 seasons and just keeps on playing, whether winter or all summer long.
Derrick Rose's addition to the Wolves' rotation with a month left in the regular season has provided both periods of adjustment and promise
Trailing by nine points early, the Spurs ran away with the game late thanks to veteran forward LaMarcus Aldridge's 39-point, 10-rebound performance
Until this season, Taj Gibson had never averaged more than the 28.7 minutes he played for coach Tom Thibodeau and the Chicago Bulls in a 2013-14 season when he played all 82 games
The versatile forward has stepped up his game in Jimmy Butler's absence.
"They're growing," Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said of his team, which is among eight teams chasing the West's final six playoff spots.
Patrick Ewing served 15 years as an assistant coach for four NBA teams but didn't get his first head-coaching job until his alma mater called last spring.
The NBA's Western Conference race is so tight that every night is now crucial. "Everyone is watching games," coach Tom Thibodeau said.
The Wolves completed a comeback against the Wizards thanks to a 34-point fourth quarter that included a 20-3 run and big plays by Karl-Anthony Towns and Nemanja Bjelica.
Until Tuesday, Cole Aldrich had played 31 minutes in 15 games this season.
Tom Thibodeau has praised Andrew Wiggins much of the season for making what he calls "winning" plays. But the coach wants to see even more.
Karl-Anthony Towns scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to finish off a 31-point, 16-rebound performance. Andrew Wiggins was among five other Wolves in double figures with 23 points.
Newly signed guard Derrick Rose made his Timberwolves' debut with 6½ minutes played during Sunday's first half against Golden State, and the best you can say about it is he should get better.
The Warriors have played 16 games without Curry this season and are 11-5 in those. They've scored 13 fewer points a game — 119 to 103 — without him, but also have ratcheted their defense while fellow superstar Durant always seems to find another gear.
The 51-14 Warriors' seven-game winning streak ended with Friday's 125-108 loss at Portland.
The Timberwolves' signing of Derrick Rose might have caused you to ask where his point-guard minutes might come on a team that already has starter Jeff Teague and backup Tyus Jones: Will Rose play with Teague and/or Jones and if not, why not?
Jaylen Brown tumbled head over heels when he was fouled on a dunk and landed frighteningly upside down
Rose signed a contract for the rest of the season — making him eligible for the playoffs — and is reuniting with coach Tom Thibodeau, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson.
Nemanja Bjelica did his part for the Timberwolves but the rest of the starters could not keep up with Boston as Minnesota lost its third game in a row for the first time this season.
The Celtics suffered a daunting injury when star Gordon Hayward was lost for the season in the opener. But Boston responded with an early 16-game winning streak and has the East's second-best record.
Essentially traded for each other over the summer, Jeff Teague and Ricky Rubio came to a very real, if fleeting, connection Friday at Utah.
Karl-Anthony Towns and Jeff Teague were ejected, there was shoving in front of the Wolves bench and injured Jimmy Butler took to Twitter to support his team during Friday's loss.
The Iowa Wolves played Utah's G League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars on Thursday, just a 10-minute drive from the Jazz's Vivint Smart Home arena.
Thursday's 108-99 loss started a daunting eight-game stretch that will help determine the Wolves' playoff seeding, or if they make the playoffs at all.
Shabazz Muhammad's release left the Wolves with two open roster spots and just 10 available players for Thursday's game against Portland. What the Wolves do next is the mystery.
In Monday's victory at Sacramento, Nemanja Bjelica provided a physical presence that Kings coach Dave Joerger said presented "too much size" for his team.
Six players scored in double figures, led by Karl-Anthony Towns' 26-point, 17-rebound performance delivered against former Kentucky teammate Willie Cauley-Stein
The Timberwolves move on without injured star Jimmy Butler by inserting Nemanja Bjelica into the starting lineup at small forward and sliding Andrew Wiggins into Butler's big-guard spot.
The Timberwolves returned from the All-Star break with a dud, losing 120-102 to the Rockets while seeing Jimmy Butler helped off the court in the third quarter.
James Harden and teammate Chris Paul were among the many who surrounded Jimmy Butler after he collapsed to the court after planting his right leg Friday night.
Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose were teammates in Chicago for five seasons, and Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau coached both players with the Bulls.
The Wolves center sparked Team Stephen off bench while Jimmy Butler decided to sit this one out.
Butler chose not to play, the only player from either team who didn't. He suggested in the weeks leading to Sunday that such a game isn't suited for a guy built to defend and win.
There's only one first time, and while Butler belongs in Sunday's game for a fourth time, there's almost always a first time for somebody. This time it belongs to teammate Karl-Anthony Towns.
As different as they might be, Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler are Timberwolves one and the same who have found common ground.
Attempting to reduce wear on its players, the NBA opened its season two weeks earlier this year, a change that reduced the number of back-to-back games and ensured teams now won't play four games in five nights.
Leading by just four points with just under eight minutes left, the Rockets made four of their 22 three-pointers to lead by 16 points less than two minutes later.
Golden State's Steve Kerr turned over duties to players Monday. Will we see that with the Wolves? "I don't think we're ready for that," Tom Thibodeau said.
Jeff Teague has considered himself a scoring point guard for most of his NBA career> But times change and Teague says he's needed to change.
The Wolves didn't play with the same kind of what Karl-Anthony Towns calls "energy" and "urgency" that were the bedrock of the previous 12 victories at Target Center.
That streak ended at 10 — one more than Martell Webster had in 2011 — with a three-pointer that could have won Friday night's game at Chicago.
The NBA recently announced a five-pronged initiative to improve player/referee relations during a season when a notable list of superstars have been ejected.
In his first game against the Wolves, Zach LaVine sank three late free-throws to give him 35 points and outshine Jimmy Butler in his return to Chicago.
Even though the Bulls have a bad record, the three players Chicago acquired have played well enough when healthy this season to believe the Bulls are headed in a good direction, and maybe quickly.
In a game that featured an NBA-record 40 made three-pointers, LeBron James' jumpshot at the overtime buzzer was the difference.
"There's always a lot of talk, but usually not a lot gets done," Wolves coach/president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau said.
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