Karl-Anthony Towns shines late in 109-103 win vs. Warriors

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Karl-Anthony Towns helped Minnesota stop a season-longest three-game losing streak with 31 points and 16 rebounds, and the Timberwolves powered their way past Golden State down the stretch for a 109-103 victory on Sunday to hand the Warriors their second straight defeat without Stephen Curry.

Kevin Durant had 39 points and 12 rebounds for the Warriors, who left Curry at home from this road trip to rest an injured right ankle and lost 125-108 to Portland on Friday.

Andrew Wiggins added 23 points for the Timberwolves, who lost twice on the road to the defending champion Warriors earlier this season by a combined 37 points. Curry had a collective plus-36 rating over those two games.

With their spot in the ultracompetitive Western Conference standings slipping while All-Star Jimmy Butler recuperates from right knee surgery, the Wolves needed this win in the worst way in the thick of a daunting stretch of their schedule.

Towns made his All-Star presence felt when it mattered most, swishing a 3-pointer with 5:54 left to give the Wolves a 99-92 edge for their largest lead since early in the second quarter. He had 14 points in the fourth period alone, knocking down a floater from the lane with 2:18 to go; a fadeaway with 1:08 remaining; then a layup follow of his own miss with 37.5 seconds left to put the game away. He held out his long arms and cupped his hands to encourage the crowd as the last seconds ticked off the clock.

Klay Thompson had 21 points for the Warriors, but he went 3 for 12 from 3-point range. Draymond Green added 10 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, but he had trouble defending Towns down low. Zaza Pachulia pitched in 16 points and 11 rebounds, but without their catalyst, Curry, the Warriors weren’t the same.

The Wolves displayed some of their sharpest ball movement since Butler went down, fueling an early lead that rose as high as 11 points late in the first quarter. Coach Tom Thibodeau then initiated Derrick Rose’s debut in an extra-small lineup next to Tyus Jones and Jamal Crawford, and, coincidentally or not, the Warriors immediately took control.

Over the 6:48 stretch Rose was in the game as the shooting guard, the Wolves were outscored 27-10. After losing the ball on a drive to the lane that led to a fast break for Warriors, Rose lost track of Livingston and gave up an uncontested dunk on the other end before Thibodeau called a timeout with the Wolves trailing 44-38.

Durant and Green each knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter, and, thanks in part to an 18-4 first-half edge in fast-break points, the Warriors built a lead as big as 57-45. The Wolves whittled away at it right before the break and kept up the comeback after halftime. Wiggins in particular was more aggressive than he’s been lately, including a pull-up jumper just before the third-quarter buzzer that tied the game at 84.

ALMOST-PERFECT PACHULIA

Coming off the bench now while JaVale McGee starts at center, Pachulia made his first seven shots to give the Warriors a big boost in another game with a thin bench. Reserves Andre Iguodala (wrist sprain), Jordan Bell (ankle sprain) and David West (arm cyst) were all held out again. Pachulia also had three assists, two blocked shots and a steal in 25 minutes.

NO BLOOM FOR ROSE

This was Rose’s first on-court action since Feb. 7 for Cleveland, against Minnesota. He didn’t get back in the game and finished 1 for 5 from the floor for two points with two assists, one rebound and two turnovers.

TIP-INS

Warriors: West was scheduled for examination by a dermatologist on Sunday, coach Steve Kerr said, before the next assessment about his return could be made. … Thompson was under his scoring average (19.7 points per game entering the afternoon) in eight of the last 10 contests.

Timberwolves: Towns reached his NBA-best 57th double-double of the season. … Taj Gibson had 11 points and 13 rebounds, reaching double-digits scoring for the 18th time in the last 21 games.

UP NEXT

Warriors: Return home to play the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.

Timberwolves: Hit the road to take on the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.

For more AP NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Knicks’ Obi Toppin out at least 2-3 weeks with knee fracture

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Obi Toppin is a fan favorite and Knicks faithful were hoping to see more of him as the season progresses.

However, they are not going to see any of him for at least the next 2-3 weeks due to a fractured knee, the team announced.

Toppin suffered the injury in New York’s win Wednesday over Atlanta, the same game that saw Dejounte Murray sprain his ankle leading him to be out for a few weeks.

Toppin — the reigning All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk contest champion — is averaging 7.7 points in 25 games off the bench. With him out, coach Tom Thibodeau suggested he could lean more on RJ Barrett, asking him to play up at the four.

Report: Zach LaVine not available for trade from Bulls

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Front offices of potential contenders from Los Angeles to Philadelphia have their eyes on the Chicago Bulls — will the struggling Bulls pivot to chase Victor Wembanyama and the top of the lottery, making them sellers at the trade deadline? Teams have interest in Chicago’s three stars: Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic.

Except just-extended LaVine isn’t currently available, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Wednesday on his network’s pregame show discussing the Knicks.

“The Knicks will be watching Chicago. Is Zach LaVine a player who before the deadline possibly can become available? He certainly isn’t now.”

Chicago is not yet ready to pivot to tanking, so none of its stars are truly available. That said, the Bulls don’t look like a playoff team, they miss Lonzo Ball, and even if things do come together where do they stand in the East hierarchy? If the Bulls do become sellers, they aren’t going to tear this team down to the studs, it would likely be trading just one star. Possibly a second if the offer was strong enough.

LaVine — who signed a five-year, $215 million extension this past summer — is the least likely to be available, league sources have told NBC Sports. The expectation is that Vucevic would be the Bull first made available if the Bulls decide to start seriously listening to offers. And that remains an “if.”

That said, front offices around the league have their eyes trained on Chicago.

Dejounte Murray added to growing Hawks injury report, out 2-3 weeks with sprained ankle

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John Collins is out for at least another week with a sprained ankle. DeAndre Hunter has been out with a strained hip flexor.

Now you can add Dejounte Murray to the Hawks’ growing injury report, he is out at least 2-3 weeks with a sprained ankle, Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic report.

The injury happened on a closeout from RJ Barrett of the Knicks.

The Hawks have already had chemistry and fit issues this season, and missing key players for an extended period only exacerbates the problem. Atlanta looked flat getting their doors blown off by the Knicks Wednesday night, 113-89, a game that added to a string where they have lost 5-of-7. Now they will have to find a way to right the ship without their second-best playmaker.

There also is an update on the Hawks’ play-by-play announcer Bob Rathbun.

NBA, WNBA players react to news Brittney Griner coming home

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Brittney Griner is finally coming home.

The WNBA and USA Basketball star has spent 10 months in Russian prisons — including being convicted and sent to a Russian penal colony — for having vape canisters with small amounts of cannabis oil in her luggage as she went through Russian airport security back in February. She became a political pawn in the tensions between the United States and Russia, mostly surrounding Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, and was freed via a prisoner swap announced Thursday.

The basketball world — WNBA players in particular — had worked to keep her name front and not let Griner be forgotten during this ordeal, pushing President Joe Biden and the government to reach a deal. With the news Griner was freed, NBA and WNBA players took to social media to react.

“Brittney has had to endure an unimaginable situation and we’re thrilled that she is on her way home to her family and friends,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “We thank the members of the NBA and WNBA community who never wavered in their efforts to raise awareness of Brittney’s unjust circumstances.”

“We are overwhelmed with relief and gratitude that our sister Brittney Griner is finally coming home,” the NBPA said in a statement. “Her strength and courage throughout this last year have been truly remarkable, as have the efforts of her wife Cherelle, our WNBPA sisters, Terri Jackson and the WNBPA staff, who have been relentless in their call to bring Brittney home. We know this homecoming would not have been possible without their unwavering support and continued work to keep BG always top of mind, and our players are honored to have contributed to those efforts. While this is a celebratory moment for our sisters and us, we must not forget the other political prisoners who remain in dire circumstances all over the world. These individuals must be remembered and fought for every single day as BG was so that they too can have this moment. Welcome home Brittney, we are so happy to have you back! #WeAreBG”