TORONTO – Karl-Anthony Towns pulled up just to the left of the top of the key, followed through on a three-point attempt and held his wrist out as the ball arched to the rim late in the third quarter Monday. The shot rotated through the air and hit nothing but net — except it didn’t go through the hoop first.
Scotiabank Arena broke out in laughter as Towns hung his head and dragged his right arm back to his side. Then he turned to the bench to come out of the game.
Towns appeared out of the game even when he was on the floor at times Monday as the Wolves, playing without injured Andrew Wiggins, fell to the Raptors 112-105.
Towns was never able to find a rhythm. He finished with 14 points on just 5-for-17 shooting while Kawhi Leonard turned in a tour-de-force performance for the Raptors — 35 points on 15-for-23 shooting to stave off the Wolves, who cut a 17-point Raptors lead to five late. It might have been a little easier for the Wolves if Towns had an easier time offensively. But after the game, Towns wasn’t too down on himself.
“This is an anomaly to me,” Towns said. “This is something that won’t happen usually. I go into the gym, work hard, I know what I put into my craft. … When it comes to the next game, I’ll be ready to go.”
That was a sentiment echoed on the other end of the Wolves locker room by the enigmatic Jimmy Butler, who hasn’t been afraid to let the public know he thinks Towns could work harder at times.
“You’re not going to have a great shooting night every single night. He knows that. We know that,” said Butler, who had 23 points for the Wolves. “… He’s going to be fine, man. We got 82 of these things throughout the season. He’ll probably have another one of these games, and I’ll probably have 15 of them.”
But Butler provided a look at how the Wolves operate on nights Towns is struggling. Butler said the rest of the Wolves are looking to get Towns going, to the point of trying to manufacture touches and shots for him.
“It’s a good thing and sometimes a bad thing,” Butler said.
How is it a bad thing?
“Because we’re trying to force it too much instead of taking what the game gives us,” Butler said. “I think that’s the sign of good teammates though. We want KAT to be successful. We want him to be aggressive. He’s featured in a lot of things on this offense, and we’ll continue to do that. One bad shooting night, the next game that he comes back, he could have 50.”
Towns wasn’t hanging his head after the game like he did after that three-pointer.
“I think it was just me,” he said. “I just couldn’t make some shots. Shots I usually hit, I didn’t hit today. Shots my teammates trust me to make I didn’t make today. It happens like that sometimes.”
Towns had a 31-point performance in Saturday’s loss to Dallas but hasn’t had more than 17 in any of the Wolves’ other four games. Is the drama around Butler’s trade request bleeding into the games? Towns didn’t point to any of that. He said the issue was all on him, and there’s another game Friday to compensate for it.
“I’m not too worried about offensively …” Towns said. “The shots will fall when they fall.”