MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kevin Martin scored 37 points and Karl-Anthony Towns had 26 points and 14 rebounds to lift the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 123-122 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night.
Martin went 6 for 9 from 3-point range and scored 17 in the fourth quarter to help the Timberwolves (9-12) improve to 3-9 at home this season. Towns made 11 of 19 shots and tied a career high for rebounds.
D'Angelo Russell scored a career-high 23 points and Julius Randle had 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers (3-19) in what was likely Kobe Bryant‘s last game in Minnesota. Bryant scored 11 points on 5-for-13 shooting in 24 minutes.
The Lakers had a chance to win in overtime, but Russell and Roy Hibbert missed jumpers in the final 9.4 seconds.
Martin had been shooting just 31 percent in 15 games since he missed one due to personal reasons. He called it the longest slump of his career, and he clutched on his right wrist for most of the game after a collision in the first quarter.
It was reminiscent of a game last year against the Knicks when he scored 37 points despite breaking a bone in his hand in the first quarter.
Russell scored nine of the Lakers’ final 11 points in regulation, including a runner with 2.2 seconds to play to force overtime. But Martin hit a 3 and Andrew Wiggins scored on a runner with 55 seconds left to hold off the Lakers.
More than 18,000 fans spent the last four minutes chanting “We Want Kobe!” in an effort to soak up as much of the Lakers star as they could.
Bryant opened the door for this kind of farewell tour when he announced his plans to retire on Nov. 29. He has been serenaded throughout Los Angeles’ road trip, which included visits to his hometown Philadelphia, Washington, Detroit and Toronto, the place he scored a career-high 81 points when current Timberwolves coach Sam Mitchell was coaching the Raptors.
But Minneapolis has always had a special affection for Bryant and the Lakers. This is where the franchise got its start before moving to Los Angeles and many fans here have clung to that kinship as a coping mechanism through the struggles the Timberwolves have endured. The Lakers’ visit has always been one of the most anticipated for local fans on the Timberwolves schedule, and thousands routinely come out in purple and gold and cheer boisterously for Bryant.
Kobe passed Michael Jordan on the NBA’s career scoring list at Target Center last season and Wolves public address announcer Rod Johnson introduced him before the game as “one of the greatest players of all-time.”
The trip to Minnesota also offered Bryant another chance to compete against Kevin Garnett, the man who blazed the trail for Kobe when he jumped straight from high school to the NBA in 1995. Bryant sought Garnett’s counsel the next year before making his decision to do the same and the two embraced before tipoff.
Bryant hit his first three shots, including a 3-pointer, but hit just two of his next 10 shots, prompting coach Byron Scott to sit him for the final 20 minutes.
Lakers: Scott said he has not had a talk with Randle and Russell about their demotions to the bench. He said it will be re-evaluated after 10 games. “They’ve been OK,” Scott said. “They haven’t been moping around or anything like that. It’s a big boys’ league, simple as that. Just have to come to work every day.”
Timberwolves: C Gorgui Dieng missed his first free-throw attempt of the game, snapping a string of 22 straight makes.
Lakers: Visit San Antonio on Friday.
Timberwolves: Visit Denver on Friday.