MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Andrew Wiggins scored 17 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter to help the Minnesota Timberwolves keep Philadelphia winless on the season with a 100-95 victory over the 76ers on Monday night.
Kevin Garnett had eight points and 10 rebounds and the Timberwolves (6-8) won at home for the first time in seven games this season. They dropped Philadelphia to 0-15 and avoided another embarrassing home loss to the Sixers, who snapped an 0-17 start to last season with a win at Target Center.
Jahlil Okafor had 25 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks for Philadelphia and thoroughly outplayed No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns, who played just 19 minutes because of foul trouble. The Sixers led by 13 in the first half and by five with 2:30 to play but once again couldn’t hold on.
Unlike the 76ers, a team filled with youngsters that is built to lose, the Timberwolves have surrounded their young core with veterans Garnett, Tayshaun Prince and Andre Miller, all in an attempt to insulate the kids from the trauma that can come with mass losing in the NBA.
Philadelphia coach Brett Brown admitted to being envious of the Wolves’ roster construction before the game, pointing out that the coach himself had to serve as the veteran guidance for these Sixers.
Garnett was there for the Wolves on Monday night in a throwback performance, scoring six straight points in a 10-0 run to open the third that got a Target Center crowd rendered sleepy by the team’s sluggish play in the first half on its feet.
Philadelphia took the punch and rebuilt a six-point lead with under five minutes to play before Wiggins took over. The reigning rookie of the year – coveted by the 76ers in last year’s draft – scored on a drive, a runner and a three-point play to get Minnesota within two at 91-89.
That’s when Jerami Grant swatted a dunk attempt by Kevin Martin right into Wiggins’ hands. He threw down a thunderous dunk to tie it at 91, and then knocked down two free throws a minute later for the lead and Martin made a 3 with 28 seconds left to ice it.
It was another gut punch in a season full of them for the 76ers, who led by 11 with just over seven minutes to play at Miami on Saturday before the Heat ripped off a 19-2 run.
The Sixers have taken a beating over the last few years under Sam Hinkie’s plan to tank their way back to the top, but Minnesota holds a special place in their hearts. Last year they were one loss away from tying the league record for consecutive defeats to start a season when they won at Target Center.