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Jim Souhan: Karl-Anthony Towns falters again, potentially posing hard questions for Timberwolves

Jim Souhan, Star Tribune on

Published in Basketball

DALLAS – Karl-Anthony Towns' greatest contribution to the Western Conference finals was not supposed to come from his right knee.

In the second quarter of Game 3 against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night, Towns went for a rebound and inadvertently kicked Mavericks standout rookie Dereck Lively II in the side of the head after Lively fell to the court. Lively did not return because of what was described as a neck strain.

With Lively out, the Timberwolves produced their best offensive quarter of the series in the third, with Towns briefly coming to life, but his series-long shooting slump helped doom the Wolves to a 116-107 loss and a 3-0 deficit in the series.

During this postseason, Towns was a big reason the Wolves won their first two series, and he is a major reason they are set up to be swept in the third.

"He struggled, of course," Wolves coach Chris Finch said. "It was hard to watch at times, but he had enough buckets here and there and kind of stayed in there defensively in the second half. Really pleased with the way he played, rebounded pretty well. But, yeah, you know, he's struggling, there's no doubt in that right now."

Towns went 0-for-8 from beyond the three-point arc and 5-for-18 from the field. For the series, he is 15-for-54 overall.

 

If Towns was shooting to his statistical norms, the Wolves would probably have won one or two of the first three games. Instead, he stood in a hallway outside the visiting locker room at American Airlines Center late Sunday night sounding like every player who has ever gone through a slump, mixing denial and hope into a nasty cocktail.

"It was deja vu because we come up again with a loss," Towns said while shaking his head and rubbing his face. "So we've been so good at getting those wins.

"... I put up 1,500 shots a day. Shot so well all playoffs. … Confidence extremely high and to be having these unfortunate bounces, these looks are just not going in. It's tough.

"... I don't mean to smile, but you have to laugh. It's very disappointing."

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