NEW YORK – Timberwolves rookie center Karl-Anthony Towns came home to Madison Square Garden, the self-acclaimed world’s most famous arena he remembers visiting only once in his life until Wednesday night.
His grandmother, sister and other family members and friends came across the river from where he was born and raised in nearby New Jersey to watch him play a Knicks team he once cheered as a boy.
“You know what, I never really had enough time or money to come to games here,” he said.
The only visit he remembers is a summer 2014 game, when he played for the Dominican Republic national team against a U.S. team featuring the likes of Steph Curry, James Harden and Anthony Davis.
He took the time before Wednesday’s game to savor the moment and then went out and delivered a 25-point, 10-rebound double-double that included 19 points and both of his two three-pointers in a second-half comeback from a 22-point deficit.
“I just looked around and soaked it all in,” he said, “and I said, ‘Wow, I’m playing as an NBA player in Madison Square Garden and I’m home.’ It’s just an amazing feeling.”
Get used to each other
Two members of what is turning out to be a talented 2015 draft class, Towns and New York rookie Kristaps Porzingis, met Wednesday for the first time as professionals.
“Whenever he’s playing another young center, KG [Kevin Garnett] always reminds Karl that he’s going to see this guy for the next 12 years so get used to it,” Wolves interim head coach Sam Mitchell said. “It’s the same thing I told KG when he played Tim Duncan: Don’t get too friendly with him because you all will be fighting for the same things.”
Twelve years? “I hope it’s 20-plus,” Towns said. “I’m not planning on retiring.”
Porzingis, the No. 4 pick in the draft, had 11 points, six rebounds, six blocks and three assists.
Mitchell talked to his young players Wednesday about playing at the Garden.
“I loved playing here,” Mitchell said. “People talked about me so bad when I played here because they didn’t know who I was and they thought my school was Mercy instead of Mercer. They just talked about it and called me a bum and I loved it.”
• After a lengthy video review, Wolves forward Shabazz Muhammad received a first-quarter Type 1 flagrant foul for an arm shiver delivered to Knicks guard Sasha Vujacic’s head after they fought for the ball. “I’m sure the league will review it, we’re reviewing it,” Knicks coach Derek Fisher said. “That’s a dangerous play. I’m glad Sasha was OK.”
• Former Wolves No. 2 overall draft pick Derrick Williams came off the Knicks’ bench late in the first quarter and enlivened the home crowd with an alley-oop dunk. That was his only field goal of the game.