NEW YORK – Karl-Anthony Towns took the floor in the third quarter of Friday’s 112-102 win over the Nets with three fouls and only two points.
He couldn’t commit another foul, or else coach Tom Thibodeau likely would yank him until the fourth quarter. While Towns played a little more carefully on the defensive end of the floor, he stayed aggressive on the offensive end, scoring 17 of his 21 points in the third. That quarter helped the Wolves get a 17-point lead on the Nets, just enough separation to keep them from coming all the way back in the fourth.
“It’s a very tight line to walk,” Towns said of the foul trouble. “That’s where you have to trust your teammates to help you in the situations where, especially for me being a shot blocker, being able not to really jump as much as I would like to contest shots. My teammates are amazing. They played well all day.”
One of his teammates, Taj Gibson, said he was in Towns’ ear, trying to keep him motivated to attack the basket.
“He was playing really angry,” Gibson said. “I was just trying to get him to play a little harder, play a little more physical. He got in foul trouble earlier in the game, but I told him, got to keep going, keep pushing. … That’s what he did.”
Still, it would easier if Towns avoided foul trouble altogether.
“He really gave us life. … I liked that part of it. I didn’t like the fouling part of it,” Thibodeau said. “That’s something he has to learn an improve upon. Sometimes, the marginal calls seem to be going against him right now. But if they call it a certain way, you have to be smart enough not to continue to do the same thing, and I know he is.”
Gibson was fairly busy in advance of Friday’s game, even up to a few hours before tipoff, trying to secure “tons” of tickets and make arrangements for kids from the community center Gibson works with in his hometown of Brooklyn.
Gibson, who scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in 26 minutes Friday, hosted several guests from the Ingersoll Community Center in Brooklyn.
Gibson runs tournaments and clinics in conjunction with the center throughout the year, and he devotes time and money to working with the center when he can to help kids in need.
“They’re trying a lot of different things, and I’m just happy to be a part of it and lead the charge, set the tone for the future,” Gibson said.
Those fans made their presence known during the game as they got several “67” chants in Gibson’s honor. Gibson wears No. 67 as an homage to his school in Brooklyn, P.S. 67.
Still on the mend
Point guard Jeff Teague had 15 points and nine assists on Friday and bounced back after two tough games against Denver and Memphis. Teague missed six games because of a left knee contusion and said he is still dealing with the injury, in addition to another one — an ankle Teague injured in his first game back from the knee contusion.
“I’m probably like 75 [percent],” Teague said. “But it’s all good. Everybody is dealing with something. I’m just happy to be out there, doing something I love.”