Wolves shoot franchise-record 68.4 percent to beat Nets
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) One game after Minnesota Timberwolves interim coach Sam Mitchell angrily benched four of his starters for the most of the second half, he watched the same group deliver one of the best offensive performances in franchise history.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 28 points, seven assists and six rebounds and the Timberwolves shot a franchise-record 68.4 percent to beat the Brooklyn Nets 132-118 on Saturday night.
''We played with a lot more energy,'' Mitchell said. ''The way we moved the ball and set screens, you can't ask for anything better than that.''
Andrew Wiggins had 26 points and six assists, Zach LaVine scored 21 points and Ricky Rubio had 16 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds for the Timberwolves. The Wolves had a season-high 36 assists to bounce back from an ugly loss in Milwaukee on Friday night.
''We responded well,'' Wiggins said. ''We knew last night was not how we play. We all know we're better than that.''
Markel Brown scored 23 points and Thomas Robinson added 18 points and 17 rebounds for the Nets. Brooklyn played without starters Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, who both sat out to rest.
Everything went in for the Wolves, who didn't have one player miss more than four shots in the game.
The Nets are in the middle of a nine-game road trip, and Brown decided to rest Lopez and Young on the second night of a back-to-back after playing heavy minutes Friday in Denver.
''I think our other guys who got a chance to play, they have to show more energy, play with a little bit more effort and play together on both ends of the floor,'' Nets interim coach Tony Brown said. ''We didn't get a lot of that tonight.''
Without Lopez to patrol the paint and Young to spread the floor, the Nets were toast.
The Timberwolves shot 74 percent in the first quarter and just kept right on making shots. The Nets trimmed a 23-point deficit to with less than eight minutes to play in the fourth, but Minnesota responded with an 8-0 run to seal the win.
It's exactly what Wolves interim coach Sam Mitchell wanted to see one night after benching four of his starters for more of the second half because he wasn't happy with their lifeless play in a blowout loss in Milwaukee.
The Wolves made 10 of 18 3-pointers and scored 25 points off 16 Nets turnovers.
Minnesota's previous franchise record was 67.1 set against the Lakers in 2014. Their new record is the highest in a game by any team since the Clippers shot 69.3 percent against Toronto on March 13, 1998. Towns was 2 years old on that night.
''That was a long time ago for me,'' Towns said. ''That's something we take great pride in. Hopefully we can keep this up.''
The Nets entered the night just one victory ahead of the Wolves in the race to the bottom, with the team with the worse record getting a better chance at the No. 1 pick in the NBA's draft lottery. A team that rested its two best players in a game like this normally might be accused of tanking, but not the Nets. Their first-round draft choice is owned by Boston.
''There's a bigger picture here,'' Brown said. ''Obviously, we're out of the playoff race. We want to stay in the games, but we also want to be conscious about their physical well-being.''
Nets: Sean Kilpatrick scored a career-high 19 points. ... The last time Brooklyn allowed a team to shoot at least 60 percent was on April 2, 2014, when the Knicks shot 60 percent. ... The Nets' franchise record for opponent field-goal percentage is 68.6 percent in 1986.
Timberwolves: F Nemanja Bjelica has not played since the All-Star break because of a strained right foot but expects to play when they start a four-game road trip on March 11. ... Their 14 assists in the first quarter were their most in a period since April 13, 2003. ... F Tayshaun Prince played in his 1,000th career game.
Nets: At Toronto on Tuesday.
Timberwolves: At Charlotte on Monday.