CHARLOTTE – As coach Ryan Saunders was addressing the Timberwolves following their 121-99 victory over the Hornets, Karl-Anthony Towns chimed in to ask, “Ryan, could we say something real quick. Do you mind?”
Friday marked four years since the death of Saunders’ father Flip, and to commemorate the win on a day that can’t be easy for Saunders, Towns and Robert Covington presented Saunders with the game ball while the team also gave him a sheet cake, Flip’s favorite.
“We said we wanted to get this W for you and your family,” Towns said, as the rest of the team clapped in a video posted to the Wolves’ official Twitter feed.
“The motto is us and when someone feels something and they’re having a moment, we want to be helpful in that moment,” Towns said. “We thought it was very important. I got our guys understanding how important this game is. Four years from the day, we got to win this for him.”
Towns made sure he did his part. Thanks to another monster game from him, the Wolves overcame missing 9 of their first 10 shots to breeze past the Hornets. Towns posted 37 points, 15 rebounds, eight assists, four steals and two blocks in just 28 minutes, helping to make this victory an easy one for Saunders.
“These are special individuals as people,” said Saunders, who wore a button that said “Flip” on his lapel. “It’s fun to have that and to share moments like that with guys.”
There have been nothing but positive vibes for the Wolves to share in the first week of the season as they came away with their second road win, the second time in franchise history they’ve opened with two win on the road. Towns, meanwhile, became the second Wolves player to start the season with back to back 30-point, 10-rebound games since Kevin Garnett in 1999.
With the Wolves holding a two-point lead at the half, Towns dominated the third quarter muscling his way to the basket and hit 4 of 7 from three-point range.
“We struggled mightily in the beginning shooting the ball,” Towns said. “That’s when my job is to make sure I make everyone better. That’s when I got to get people easy buckets and get us going.”
Towns helped make the Wolves 15-point first quarter deficit seem like a speed bump. They outscored the Hornets 45-25 in the third, setting a franchise record for most points in a third quarter.
Josh Okogie was again a spark plug off the bench with 14 points, while Andrew Wiggins added 16.
It’s a team in which Saunders said his dad would have pride.
“I also told them,” Saunders said, “that if my father was here he’d say we got to talk about Charlotte and the positives that happened tonight, how we grew as a team and how we need to look forward.”