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More minutes for Towns, Dieng put Wolves on two-game winning streak

After he carefully measured his big men's minutes this season, Timberwolves interim head coach Sam Mitchell called upon both Karl-Anthony Towns and Gorgui Dieng to play 41 minutes or more in Saturday's comeback victory over Chicago.

They did so because Kevin Garnett and Nikola Pekovic remain sidelined and Nemanja Bjelica and Adreian Payne remain out of the playing rotation.

With two games to go before a nine-day All Star break and his team on a two-game winning streak, can he keep doing that?

"We're going to find out, aren't we?" Mitchell said. "They've got seven days to rest. We're going to find out. That is a concern, but those two have been playing so well together."

The Wolves play Anthony Davis and New Orleans tonight and Toronto on Wednesday, both at Target Center.

Nine days after they combined for 52 points and 27 rebounds in a game at Utah, Towns and Dieng together had 50 points and 30 rebounds against the Bulls.

After keeping Towns minutes to 30 or fewer many nights this season, Mitchell played him a season-high amount on Saturday, one more minute than Towns played in a Dec. 26 game against Indiana.

Towns played in a platoon system his one year at Kentucky, so he's used to measured minutes.

But this...?

"It was different, definitely different," he said. "I hadn't played 40 minutes in my whole entire career. It was cool, something new to get used to."

Towns said he could feel the difference the next day. "It's OK, it's something new to me," he said. "Next time, it won't feel like that. It'll feel like something I'm already accustomed to."

Dieng said he felt no effects Sunday after playing 41:29 on Saturday.

"I'm good," Dieng said. "I didn't play a lot of minutes starting the season. If I have a chance to play now, I'm just going to lock in and play."

Postgame blog: Wolves have first winning streak since December

After Saturday’s victory, almost to a man, the Wolves pointed to their modest two-game winning streak – their first since before Christmas – as proof that this young team is starting to grow up.

Perhaps they’re right. Though it should be noted that Saturday’s victory came against a Bulls team playing on a back-to-back without leading scorer Jimmy Butler.

But, for the second straight game, the Wolves have closed out a close game with some strong play late. Saturday Andrew Wiggins – who had just 11 points through three quarters – scored 10 points in the final 12 minutes, including six straight points late to help the Wolves ice the win.

Here are some thoughts/stats from the game.

--What a night for big men Karl-Anthony Towns and Gorgui Dieng. They combined for 50 points, 30 rebounds, eight assists and four blocks tonight. They also combined for 11 offensive rebounds against a Chicago team that is one of the best in the league on the boards.

--This was just the fifth time this season the Wolves had three players score 20 or more points in the same game (Towns 26, Dieng 24 and Wiggins 21). All five have come in the last month.

--The Wolves have now matched last season’s win total (16).

--The Wolves have now won three of their last four home games.

--Dieng’s 24 points were a career high. For Towns, he now has 28 double-doubles this season. It was also his 14th game with 20 points and 10 rebounds, matching the club rookie record for such games in a single season (Christian Laettner, 1992-93).

--This was the third straight game the Wolves have shot 50 percent or better. It’s the first time they’ve done that since March 2013.

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