Back in 2003, for the second time in his career, Kevin Garnett scored 20 points or more in a 16th consecutive game. A franchise best, the record stood for 14 years.
Now it has been broken — and broken again — in a matter of weeks.
On March 1 in Utah, Andrew Wiggins scored 20 points, his 19th straight game with 20 or more, a streak that ended in the next game, a loss in San Antonio.
Saturday Karl-Anthony Towns scored 35 points, his 20th game with 20 or more. That means Wiggins’ mark lasted 10 days. It also means that the two of them have taken a huge step in terms of both overall production and consistent play. With 39 points Monday, Towns extended that mark to 21 games.
The question is whether this is due mainly to simple improvement, or a determination to do more after Zach LaVine was lost to a knee injury Feb. 3.
“The big thing coming in, for everyone, was to concentrate on their improvement,’’ Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “When you lose a guy like Zach, you don’t replace him individually. You have to do it collectively. So I think that’s been the big part of it. Of course, Ricky [Rubio] has really stepped up also.’’
Both streaks started while LaVine still was playing, but the bulk of both came after he was out. Towns, averaging 24.5 points and 53.4 percent shooting for the season, has upped those numbers to 28.9 and 61.2 percent in the 16 games since LaVine was hurt. In those 16 games Wiggins has averaged 25.6 points and 46.0 percent shooting, compared to his season numbers of 22.9 and 45.3.
“We’re getting better every game,’’ Wiggins said. “With Zach out, he was one of our main, primary scorers. Without him we needed to step it up.’’
Player of the week
So it should come as no surprise that Towns was named the Western Conference player of the week on Monday.
Towns averaged 29 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 37.7 minutes per game while shooting 63.3 percent in three games, two of them Wolves victories. He had 29 points in a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, 23 points in a victory over Golden State, and then 35 points in Milwaukee.
It is the second time Towns has won the award, the first time this season. Monday’s game featured both award winners; Washington guard John Wall was the Eastern Conference player of the week.
When Wall arrived in Washington as a rookie in 2010, one of the people he immediately bonded with was Ryan Saunders. Currently an assistant with the Wolves, Ryan Saunders was an assistant for his father, the late Flip Saunders, in Washington.
“He’s a great guy,’’ Wall said. “One of the funniest and coolest coaches I have ever had. He mentored me through my time there. Being the same age, it was easy to talk to him.’’
• Hoping to beat the snow headed toward Boston, the Wolves — who play the Celtics there Wednesday — were scheduled to depart after Monday’s game.
• Asked who he liked in the upcoming NCAA tournament, Thibodeau picked Duke, because of his association with Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski.
“But don’t tell Cal,’’ he joked, referring to Kentucky coach John Calipari.