Knicks hold off Wolves 107-102 behind Anthony, Afflalo
NEW YORK (AP) In a matchup of top rookies, Karl-Anthony Towns had the better individual matchup but Kristaps Porzingis and the Knicks got the victory.
Carmelo Anthony had 20 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists, Arron Afflalo scored 29 points, and New York beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 107-102 on Wednesday night.
''(Anthony) always makes things easier for us,'' Porzingis said. ''He was rebounding the ball good, helping us bigs get the rebound. He was passing the ball well. He had nine assists. He was really doing it all on the floor and that's what we need from him.''
Porzingis had 11 points, seven blocks, six rebounds and three assists for the Knicks in his first matchup against Towns, the No. 1 pick.
''For Kristaps to block seven shots, he took away seven opportunities for the other team to score,'' Knicks coach Derek Fisher said. ''That's more important than him making one more basket. Our guys are continuing to embrace the fact that your stat line won't make the difference every night. It's really about the Knicks winning the game.''
Anthony felt the same about his high assist total.
''There comes a time when you've got to do something different to figure the game out and not kind of be narrow-minded coming into the game,'' he said.
Towns had 25 points and 10 rebounds, Andrew Wiggins scored 23 points, and Zach LaVine had 19 points for the Timberwolves.
Ricky Rubio nearly had a quadruple-double with 12 assists, 10 rebounds, nine points and eight steals.
The Knicks built a 60-40 halftime lead after outscoring Minnesota 33-14 in the second quarter. Porzingis, the No. 4 pick from Latvia, blocked six shots in the half.
''We got down and we missed some shots,'' Timberwolves coach Sam Mitchell said. ''I think they shot 55 percent in the first half. We missed some shots down the stretch.''
Minnesota got within three in the fourth quarter, with Towns scoring 10 points and LaVine nine in the period, but Afflalo put it away at the free throw line.
While Porzingis won Round One against Towns, the No. 1 pick look forward to their next matchup.
''(Porzingis) is talented,'' Towns said. ''He proved it again. He's very talented. He's a versatile player. I can't wait to be playing against him for the next 20 years plus.''
Timberwolves: Mitchell said before the game he wanted fair expectations for the Wolves. ''We're 9-15. We're not jumping up and down celebrating, but compared to where we were defensively last year, offensively last year, I'm laughing at you guys (media),'' he said. ''Everybody's like, `What's wrong with the Timberwolves?' We won 16 games last year. We've got nine wins right now. We've been in every game except last night was probably our worst game we played. You're talking about eight guys 22 or younger. Our three most talented players that play the most minutes and are our leading scorers are all 20 years old and would be juniors in college, so I'm laughing at you guys.'' ... Gorgui Dieng made his first start of the season. . Kevin Garnett (rest), Kevin Martin (bruised right wrist) and Nikola Pekovic (right Achilles tendon) all sat.
Knicks: Fisher has been pleased with Kyle O'Quinn, who came in averaging 9.7 points and 6.3 rebounds in three games since returning to the rotation on Wednesday against the Utah Jazz. ''Sometimes when an opportunity is not there for you, you appreciate the opportunity the next time it shows up. He got an opportunity, he took advantage of it and he's been doing a great job.'' ... Cleanthony Early was inactive.
Mitchell also talked about Rajon Rondo's gay slur toward referee Bill Kennedy that earned him a one-game suspension.
''I know Rajon, I wouldn't say we're friends, but I know him. I was shocked. I don't think he's that type of person,'' Mitchell said. ''He made a serious mistake and he's paying for it, rightfully so, but let's see how he does going forward because sometimes when you make mistakes like that publicly, it can have a profound change on your life for the good.''
Boxer Floyd Mayweather was courtside at Madison Square Garden.
Timberwolves: Host Sacramento on Friday.
Knicks: Visit Philadelphia on Friday.