With the Timberwolves and Rockets tied 102-102 with a little over two minutes left Tuesday night, Karl-Anthony Towns fouled out.

On another night this might've meant the end of the Wolves' chances for a win. But the Wolves have been a better team than the won that showed up for the first half of the season — and it helped to be playing the worst team in the league in Houston.

Thanks to some strong play from the bench, the Wolves were able to overcome Towns' absence and fend off Houston on a second night of a back to back.

First, the Wolves got 22 points off the bench from Juancho Hernangomez. Hernangomez has played his best basketball since the All-Star break after he was out because of COVID in January. Under coach Chris Finch, Hernangomez has played more of the three position instead of the four and his chemistry playing alongside Naz Reid, Jarred Vandebrilt, Jordan McLaughlin and D'Angelo Russell showed Tuesday. He hit his first three threes that enabled the Wolves to take a double-digit first half lead.

"I think Vando and Naz are really good complements for him as a front line," Finch said. "And he does a really good job of flowing with screens and setting or slipping, reading the floor. I also like just putting him in some split action and things that you do with perimeter guys. Just a very clever basketball player."

Hernangomez's 22 points was a season high and third time in four games he has scored in double digits.

"We just play hard," Hernangomez said of the second unit. "We try to play defense, try to run. We don't try to hold the ball too much, so everybody touches the ball, everybody feels important, you know?"

That second unit has lifted the play of Reid at times too, though he had a quiet night with five points as Hernangomez was lighting it up.

Down the stretch the Wolves won the game in part because of Vanderbilt's hustle, as he compiled four points and two steals in the decisive moments. Vanderbilt was able to move past a rough game against Utah from Monday night.

"I know what I bring to the table," Vanderbilt said. "I know what I do every night. You play 72 games, some nights it's not going to be your night. Stuff I can control is energy, effort and so I go out there and control what I can control and the rest of the game will come to me. That's the beauty of a back-to-back, shake it off and come back the next night."