For the second consecutive season, Karl-Anthony Towns is an All-Star.
NBA coaches selected the Timberwolves center as a Western Conference reserve Thursday. Derrick Rose, who finished second in fan voting last week, was not named to the team.
Towns gets the honor after his buzzer-beating jumper lifted the Wolves to a 99-97 overtime victory over Memphis on Wednesday at Target Center. Some of Towns’ teammates said before the announcement Thursday night that he deserves to be an All-Star.
“He’s a big part of our team. A big, big part,” Andrew Wiggins said. “He’s been dominating all season long, putting up numbers. He’s unstoppable. He gets double-teamed, triple-teamed every game. I feel like he definitely deserves to be one.”
Even though Towns was selected as a Western Conference All-Star, he could still end up playing with Eastern Conference teammates under the All-Star Game format, which has two captains (Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James) picking their teams on Thursday. The game is Feb. 17 in Charlotte, N.C.
Towns is averaging 22.6 points and 12.1 rebounds per game. His scoring is up slightly from a season ago while the rebounds are down a hair.
“He’s been doing the things he needs to do for our team, helping us so many different ways,” forward Taj Gibson said. “And it’ll be a good thing to see because he wants to be an All-Star really bad.”
Towns treated Wolves and Lynx staff members to a screening Thursday of the new movie “What Men Want,” which stars actress Taraji P. Henson and also features a role for Towns. Henson plays a sports agent in the movie, set to open nationwide on Feb. 8.
Jerryd Bayless didn’t realize the uniqueness of what was happening around him.
“Honestly, I don’t remember,” Bayless said.
Neither did Anthony Tolliver. “I didn’t even notice it to tell you the truth,” Tolliver said.
Since taking over for Tom Thibodeau, interim coach Ryan Saunders hasn’t been afraid to tinker with rotations and substitution patterns, unlike the rigid Thibodeau.
Toward the end of the first quarter and in the early minutes of the second Saunders unleashed perhaps his maddest experiment yet — four big men off the bench in Dario Saric, Tolliver, Luol Deng and Gorgui Dieng, playing alongside either point guard Isaiah Canaan, who made his Wolves debut on a 10-day contract, or Bayless. They actually played well, and the four forwards increased an early Wolves lead from 11 to 15 over the 3:56 they were on the floor together.
That combination came about in part from Towns’ foul trouble, also because of the Wolves’ injury issues, with Rose, Tyus Jones, Robert Covington and Jeff Teague all out.
To the players, a lineup like that is emblematic of Saunders’ approach to the game — how he’s not afraid to throw a lineup together and stick with it if it’s working.
“I think he’s going to try most things and that’s a testament to who he is,” Bayless said. “A lot of guys are pretty rigid. That’s not a knock against coaches, it’s just the reality, they have their way with things and stick with it by any means. Ryan has been open to trying new things and I think it shows.”