MINNEAPOLIS — For three quarters, Monday’s game was a slog.

Phoenix and Minnesota could get nothing going offensively at Target Center.

Then came the fourth quarter, and a thriller broke out. Two teams went back and forth, making one play after another. Karl-Anthony Towns was throwing haymakers for the Wolves, with Devin Booker and Chris Paul answering.

In the end, the star guard won out, as Phoenix, the defending Western Conference champion, edged Minnesota 99-96 at Target Center.

Paul scored 19 points in the fourth quarter, while Booker added nine.

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In the game’s closing seconds, with Minnesota down two, D’Angelo Russell missed an open look from deep. Anthony Edwards corralled the offensive rebound, but he quickly turned it over.

There was no shame in Monday’s effort for Minnesota, which defended well for most of the game and made enough plays late to win. Phoenix (10-3) is just that good.

That’s the problem when you lose to bad teams, as Minnesota has done early this season — the good ones are really, really hard to beat. Still, Monday’s performance can be one to build off, if the Wolves can bring that consistent effort and energy moving forward — something Minnesota has yet to do this season.

It was a slog offensively for both teams for the first 36 minutes. Credit the defenses, for sure, but there was also zero shot-making present for much of the evening. Every make felt like a massive shot in the arm for whichever team it went down for.

Anthony Edwards had perhaps his worst offensive showing to date. He went 2 for 11 from the field, including 1 for 6 from deep to go with six turnovers. To his credit, he did grab 11 rebounds to go with six assists.

Towns was responsible for most of the offensive success. On his birthday, Towns was lights out from the field, finishing with 35 points on 10-for-19 shooting. But the Wolves (4-9) couldn’t get him any looks in the closing minutes with the game on the line.