Timberwolves look to continue success against Pelicans

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January 9, 2022; Houston, Texas, United States; Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) manages the ball away while Houston Rockets center Christian Wood (35) defends in the third quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves have won four in a row.

They just wrapped up their most defining game of the season as they visit the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night.

“You see a maturation of a young team finding its own,” said center Karl-Anthony Towns after scoring a high 40 points in a 141-123 victory in Houston on Sunday. “I think everyone in the NBA sees an identity building in Minnesota, something that I think has been lacking in this organization for a long, long time.”

Towns, who had nine rebounds and seven assists, had 15 of 25 shots against the Rockets, including 4 of 6 with 3 points.

“They didn’t really have a game against him there,” said Timberwolves coach Chris Finch.

Minnesota, which pulled 50.9 percent off the ground, had 74 points in the paint and 31 points of quick braking.

“I think we trust each other a bit more (on offense),” said guard D’Angelo Russell, who had 22 points and 10 assists. “When we trust each other, I feel like we can get our pace throughout the game without even having to really work for it. We have guys on our squad who force teams to really lock them down defensively. “

Jarred Vanderbilt has reached career highs in points (21) and rebounds (19). He did eight dunks to show how well Wolves moved the ball, getting 37 assists from 55 baskets.

“We’re just moving the ball. I feel like we are decisive, ”said Vanderbilt. “Everyone moves, walks by and just shakes things up. We entered into our actions, we executed them.

The Pelicans lost four of five games following a 105-101 loss to Toronto on Sunday.

“Overall it’s a tough loss for us,” said coach Willie Green of a game with 10 changes of lead and seven draws.

New Orleans had a three-point lead with less than three minutes to go, but Fred VanVleet scored two points from 3 points and the Raptors grabbed three of their 15 offensive rebounds in the last minute to complete their sixth straight victory.

“We were right there,” Green said. “We had chances to win the game. We have done a lot of good things to put ourselves in this position. But at the end of the day we have to have a mentality about when the gunfire goes up, we have to turn around and find the bodies. We haven’t done a great job on it.

Jonas Valanciunas had 20 points and 17 rebounds for the Pelicans, who were outscored 24-6 in second-chance points.

“We stayed in the game until the last second,” said Valanciunas. “We were right there. It’s no excuse, but we have to do better to win these games. It hurts a lot to lose three or four points.

Starting guard Josh Hart has not made the trip due to COVID-19 contact tracing, but is expected to return for Tuesday’s game. Alternate goalkeeper Tomas Satoransky (health and safety protocol) has missed four straight games but is also expected to return.

“We’re in a position to win the game, and that’s what you want,” said Green. “Unfortunately, we did not take the victory. Our goal is to keep improving. We just have to keep our foot on the gas. There is a lot of basketball left.

–Field level media

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