Towns, a three-time All-Star and the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NBA draft, struggled in the previous two games, both Minnesota losses. In Games 2 and 3, he racked up 10 personal fouls but made only seven field goals, as the Grizzlies threw multiple defenders at him in the half court.
“A bunch of rage,” Towns said of his mood coming into Game 4. “Trying to find ways to dominate regardless of what they throw [at me] — double, triple, quadruple, coach comes on the court and guards me, as well — and find ways to put the ball in the bucket.”
Towns answered with 33 points and 14 rebounds, joining Kevin Garnett as the only Timberwolves players to record a 30-and-10 playoff game. One of the NBA’s most versatile offensive big men, Towns showed off his full repertoire. He thrived in the pick-and-roll, drove as an isolation scorer against Memphis’ overmatched big defenders and even came off screens as a long-distance shooter. He scored an efficient 1.43 points per possession.
“He was angry,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said of Towns’ attitude before the contest. “He was really good from the beginning: aggressive, putting pressure on them, forcing them to blow the whistle, get to the free throw line, things that he hadn’t been doing a lot in the last couple of games.”
Towns made a living at the free throw line on Saturday, challenging the Grizzlies’ defense en route to the basket. He sank 14 of his 17 free throw attempts and attributed much of his overall success in Game 4 to his output at the stripe.
“It gives me free shots at the rim,” Towns said. “It gives a good touch of the basketball. It gives me a good rhythm. More importantly for me, personally, it allows me to calm down.”
Among those free throws were the pair that iced the game for the Timberwolves, putting them up four with 4.4 seconds remaining. Towns, a career 83.3% free throw shooter, said he was infinitely confident he’d drain the final shot.
“I knew it was good — the game was over,” he said. “I was thinking about what I was going to eat.”
Afterward, Grizzlies guard Ja Morant praised Towns’ effort in light of his poor showing in Minnesota’s historic collapse in Game 3.
“KAT responded like a superstar should,” Morant said.
Morant, who labored for only 11 points on 4-for-13 shooting from the field — accompanied by 16 assists — will have an opportunity to answer for himself in Game 5 at Memphis on Tuesday night.
The technical storage or access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of enabling the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user, or for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network.
The technical storage or access is necessary for the legitimate purpose of storing preferences that are not requested by the subscriber or user.
The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for statistical purposes.The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for anonymous statistical purposes. Without a subpoena, voluntary compliance on the part of your Internet Service Provider, or additional records from a third party, information stored or retrieved for this purpose alone cannot usually be used to identify you.
The technical storage or access is required to create user profiles to send advertising, or to track the user on a website or across several websites for similar marketing purposes.