Hot starts are why Karl-Anthony Towns is averaging more than 23 points a game.
He scored 17 points in first half of the Timberwolves season opener, nine in the first half of the each of the next two games, then continued his trend of big first-half efforts with 22 points, 25, 19 and 14, respectively, in the past four games.
The problem is the second half has yielded very different results.
Towns has scored a combined 115 points in the first half of games this season compared to just 38 in the second half. This discrepancy has likely had an effect on the Wolves' inability to hold onto leads late in the game.
Through seven games, the Wolves have led at halftime five times and trailed one game by just one point. However, their record is 2-5.
They lost three of the first four games by just a combined 10 points while their reigning Rookie of the Year and arguably the best player on the roster went cold when they need him most.
Towns scored just four points in the second half of the season opener, six at Sacramento, and 10 points (a season high) in the loss to Denver to round out the Wolves’ first three defeats.
Even in the Wolves’ two victories, Towns’ second-half scoring has been down. He had no field goals and just two points from free throws in the second half of the Wolves' home opener, and in Wednesday night’s first road win at Orlando, he had just six points.
Towns is nearly averaging a double-double with 23.4 points per game and 9.6 rebounds, but a more consistent effort throughout both halves from the reigning Rookie of the Year might be the boost the Wolves need to start finishing games.
Foul trouble has likely played a role in Towns’ second-half production. He has picked up three or more fouls in five games, and five fouls on two occasions. However, Towns is still averaging 34.2 minutes per game and played a season-high 41 against Orlando.
Another factor could be the way opposing defenses adjust to the Wolves with a focus on containing Towns. Whatever it is, this is a trend the Wolves need Towns to correct if they hope to start turning close games into wins instead of losses.
Towns’ first half vs. second half scoring totals:
Oct. 26 lost to Memphis 102-98: First half – 17, Second half – 4 (led at halftime).
Oct. 29 lost to Sacramento 106-103: First half – 9, Second half – 4 (led at halftime).
Nov. 1 beat Memphis 116-80: First half – 9, Second half – 2 (led at halftime).
Nov. 3 lost to Denver 102-99: First half – 22, Second half – 10 (led at halftime).
Nov. 5 lost to Oklahoma City: First half 25, Second half – 8 (trailed at halftime).
Nov. 8 lost to Brooklyn 119-110: First half – 19, Second half – 2 (trailed by one at halftime).
Nov. 9 beat Orlando 123-107: First half – 14, Second half – 6 (led at halftime).