Karl-Anthony Towns' first exposure to the NBA's playoff stage has not drawn rave reviews, not that he's paying any heed.
In consecutive losses to Houston to open the first-round series, Towns has shot 5-for-18 and averaged 6.5 points per game. It is only the third time in his three-year career that he's gone consecutive games without reaching 10 points; he had a three-game stretch early in his rookie year, then two consecutive eight-point games later in his first season.
And it has made him the target of much national criticism as the team prepares for Saturday's Game 3 at Target Center. TNT analyst Charles Barkley said Towns had a long ways to go offensively.
"He's got to get in the gym, man, and work on his game this summer," Barkley said.
ESPN's Stephen A. Smith called Towns "soft."
"They put Clint Capela on you, and then after that they put Nene on you," Smith said. "Not only do you seem not to have an answer, you don't seem to find one. This is bad."
So does Towns use this as motivation?
No, he said, because he's not listening.
"I wouldn't know," Towns said. "I don't look at it. I never watch TV. It's a very rare occasion that I'm watching TV. So I don't see anything, because I physically don't know of it. I'm not big in social media. … I just don't do social media. I live my life very Amish-like. I kind of, other than video games, I don't think I have a reason for electronics. It's a life I've always loved."
Getting Towns more involved on offense has been a theme of this series. After the first game much was made of the Wolves not taking advantage of switches that left a Houston guard on Towns in the post. After practice Friday, Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said the Rockets were switching to a smaller defender, but bringing a big to help.
Towns, Thibodeau said, has to trust the pass.
"I think he's learning," Thibodeau said. "That's when you have to trust the pass, you have to play with energy, you have to beat people down the floor."
Indeed, guard Jeff Teague said one key would be getting Towns some transition buckets.
But Towns? He said it doesn't do much good to fret about the first two games. Instead, he's looking forward to Saturday's Game 3.
"I've been fine," he said. "I've slept normal. You want to win badly. You dwell too much on the past, you forget what you have to take care of in the present. I think we're ready to go [Saturday]."
Make the call
Through two games Andrew Wiggins has been among the more reliable offensive threats for the Wolves. He is leading the team in playoff scoring (15.5), is second in rebounding (7.0) and is averaging 2.0 assists per game.
He has been relatively aggressive, but hasn't been awarded with many trips to the free-throw line, getting only six in two games. He feels he has deserved more.
"I think I'm getting fouled," Wiggins said. "There's nothing I can do but keep driving, hoping I get the call."
A long wait
Saturday's game will be the Wolves' first playoff home game since the spring of 2004, and it was a sellout before the team's practice ended Friday.
"We had great support all year," Thibodeau said. "I know how hard this team has worked and fought to make it. You're trying to erase 14 years of losing, it's not an easy thing to do. This team has fought like crazy all year. We were basically a three seed when Jimmy [Butler] went down. We finished one game out of the fourth spot. I'm proud of what they've done. And now our challenge is to win this next game."