Karl-Anthony Towns didn’t want to complain about the officiating following the Timberwolves’ 116-113 loss to San Antonio on Friday night. He would rather keep the money the league might fine him in his bank account.
“I’m [going to] save my money because whatever I say it won’t change anything,” Towns said.
But if you saw Towns in action Friday, you saw his displeasure with the officials, specifically in the six instances they called him for a foul. Towns’ night ended with 2 minutes, 27 seconds to play as he fouled out for the sixth time this season after scoring 23 points in just 21 minutes, 15 seconds of playing time, his lowest total of the season. The Wolves’ night ended in defeat not long after that. With Towns out, the Spurs were able to maintain a slim lead late and hold on as Derrick Rose (23 points) airballed a three-point attempt at the buzzer that would have tied the score.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points and nine rebounds, but he also helped goad Towns into committing most of his fouls, allowing the Spurs to defeat the Wolves without DeMar DeRozan in the lineup because of a sore left ankle.
When asked what he could do to stay out of foul trouble, Towns’ voice got quiet.
“I don’t know. I really don’t know,” Towns said. “Just go out there and play the game.”
Interim coach Ryan Saunders had a few ideas.
“Working on going vertical,” Saunders said. “Going straight up … because I think that’s where it appears the fouls are being called, the majority of them are. We’ll work on that, and we’ll do that on both individual development as well as team drills.”
The Wolves nearly got by without Towns on Friday and had a 10-point lead in the third quarter, but the Spurs, as they are wont to do, chipped away at it and got within two by the start of the fourth quarter, then kept the lead as Towns was in and out.
Towns was effective when he was in the game, but he could never stay on the floor for an extended period of time in the second half. He picked up his fifth 2:41 into the fourth quarter and sat until the 4:45 mark before fouling out 2:18 later.
“I think it’s one of those things we just got to keep talking to him,” Saunders said. “We’re never going to use youth as an excuse or anything. But Karl’s maturing more each and every day. So we’ll talk [Saturday], probably talk [after the game], and we’ll be better for it on Sunday.”
Towns wasn’t the only one frustrated with the officials. The fans let officials know their displeasure with plenty of boos and sarcastic cheers when they called a foul on a the Spurs.
Gorgui Dieng was talking to officials on a missed free throw in the third quarter and allowed former Timberwolf Dante Cunningham to swoop into the lane for an easy putback.
Dieng needed just 9:36 to pick up his five fouls.
Jeff Teague picked up a technical in the fourth quarter after he was called for an offensive foul, moments after Josh Okogie was called for a block at the other end. Saunders said the Wolves weren’t going to pin their loss on the officials.
“We’re a no-excuse team,” Saunders said.
Andrew Wiggins, who had 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting, said the way the game was called might have affected how the Wolves played.
“It might’ve,” Wiggins said. “Because when you’re in foul trouble, I feel like it takes away from your aggressiveness.”
And Towns can’t be aggressive at all when he’s not on the floor.