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Timberwolves lose third straight as Karl-Anthony Towns exits with calf strain

He left the game after suffering an apparent non-contact injury while running back on defense.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Washington Wizards
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards is fouled by Washington Wizards forward Deni Avdija in the first half Monday, Nov. 28, in Washington, D.C. Edwards had 29 points and eight rebounds in the 142-127 loss.
Geoff Burke / USA Today Sports
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The only good news for the Minnesota Timberwolves came in the fourth quarter, when the team announced Karl-Anthony Towns’ third-quarter exit was due to a right calf strain.

That would be the best-case scenario for the Timberwolves’ big man, who left the game after suffering an apparent non-contact injury while running back on defense that left him unable to put any weight on his right leg.

“Obviously super concerned about that. Big blow for us,” said Timberwolves coach Chris Finch, who did not receive any further clarity on the injury immediately after the game. “Hopefully (a calf strain is) where it comes down. We’ll have it evaluated (Tuesday).”

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that “there’s some early optimism” from sources that Towns “may have avoided a substantial injury to his lower right leg.”

“KAT’s tough. When he went down, I had faith that he was good,” Wolves guard Jaylen Nowell said. “Yeah, it was great though, great that he avoided serious injury. Hopefully he can get back out there as soon as possible.”

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NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Washington Wizards
Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) is helped off the court by Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert (27) and a member of the Timberwolves staff after being injured in the third quarter Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, against the Washington Wizards.
Geoff Burke / USA Today Sports

That diagnosis would be far better than the scenarios likely running through the minds of most fans as Towns writhed on the floor. Still, even a calf strain would sideline Towns at least for a while.

That means Minnesota will have to dig itself out of its current rut without one of its best players. Because Monday’s 142-127 road loss to the Wizards mimicked Sunday’s slaughter against Golden State in all the worst ways. It was Minnesota’s third straight loss, a cold snap that comes directly on the heels of a five-game winning streak.

Minnesota (10-11) again appeared unable to match up with its opponent, which generated easy open looks throughout the contest. And Washington (11-10) — specifically, Kristaps Porzingis — hit the majority of those shot attempts.

Porzingis finished with 41 points, with 29 of those coming in Washington’s 77-point first-half performance. The skilled center was showered with MVP chants from his home crowd by game’s end. Porzingis’ early offense came via a simple formula. He was guarded by Rudy Gobert, so Porzingis would hang out on the perimeter and fire at will from deep over Gobert, who was playing back to protect against the drive.

The results: Splash, splash, splash.

It seems as though more opponents than not have the personnel necessary to give Minnesota’s big lineup issues by stretching the floor and putting Gobert and Towns in uncomfortable situations.

Minnesota will now see if it can find defensive solutions by slotting in more traditional lineups — perhaps those featuring the likes of Kyle Anderson at the power forward spot alongside Gobert during Towns’ absence. But size certainly wasn’t the only issue Monday. The defense experienced zero improvement once Towns exited.

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Towns’ injury is just the latest ding for Minnesota, which was again without Jaden McDaniels, Taurean Prince and Jordan McLaughlin on Monday.

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Washington scored 65 second-half points, meaning the Wolves have surrendered 65-plus points in three of their last four halves of basketball. The Wizards shot 57 percent from the field as a team, while going 15 for 31 from deep.

While much of that was Porzingis on Monday, nearly every player for Washington defensively had no issue breaking down Minnesota’s perimeter defense, regardless of who was on the floor.

“On-ball defense has got to be better. It’s just gotta be better,” Finch said. “They did a good job with Porzingis. They were able to pull Rudy away from the basket. Then they made it a drive game. We just gotta settle in. When we did a good job of containing the drive, I thought we were really good. But it wasn’t consistent enough.”

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Related Topics: MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
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