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MINNEAPOLIS — Karl-Anthony Towns roared back from two rough games with a career playoff-best 33 points and 14 rebounds, helping the Minnesota Timberwolves move past their Game 3 collapse and pull out a 119-118 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night to even the first-round series at 2-2.
Anthony Edwards scored 24 points and backup Jordan McLaughlin went 4 for 4 from 3-point range to pitch in 16 points as the Timberwolves relentlessly attacked the basket and went 31 for 40 from the foul line.
The series shifts back to Memphis for Game 5 on Tuesday night.
Desmond Bane, who hit his eighth 3-pointer at the buzzer to finish with 34 points, and Dillon Brooks with 24 points kept the Grizzlies going on another quiet night for star point guard Ja Morant. Morant went 4 for 13 from the floor, and had 11 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds.
Jaren Jackson Jr. fouled out with seven points, and 25 of the Grizzlies’ 33 fouls were called their starters.
Towns, who took four shots and had just eight points in Game 3, hit 14 of 17 free throws and was the catalyst down the stretch with 13 points in the fourth quarter.
Patrick Beverley missed two free throws with 43 seconds left. With the Wolves leading 115-110, Morant answered with a layup and Edwards missed a pull-up 3. But Tyus Jones had his 3-pointer fall short with 10.5 seconds to go, and Edwards grabbed the rebound. He sank both free throws as the crowd chanted, “Wolves in six! Wolves in six!”
McLaughlin’s first 3 put Minnesota in front in the second quarter to start a 17-1 run that maxed out with a 50-35 lead — the largest of the night that quickly got whittled by the Grizzles back down to single digits.
The Wolves might have been better off playing a tighter game this time, after their pair of 25-point advantages in Game 3 went for naught.
Two more animal rights protesters attempted to interrupt the game in the third quarter. One woman leaped over the courtside seats of Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and his wife, Becky, before being tackled by security and carried away. Her companion remained behind the Taylors and next to the second row of Timberwolves assistant coaches, who helped security wrestle her out.
The group has been protesting the way that a chicken farm that’s part of Taylor’s enterprises has allegedly handled an avian flu outbreak. The highly contagious virus has killed roughly 28 million poultry.