Timberwolves beat on glass in loss to Knicks

The New York Knicks shot a worse percentage from the field, worse percentage from 3-point range, hit one fewer free-throw and committed more turnovers than Minnesota on Monday at Madison Square Garden.

And they won anyway.

That’s what happens when you take 13 more shots than your opponent, a product of New York’s 16 offensive rebounds that resulted in 22 second-chance points in the Timberwolves’ 112-106 defeat in the New Year’s Day matinee.

“There weren’t breakdowns defensively. There were just breakdowns on the box outs,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch told reporters. “Punking us on the glass, mostly, and then hit us on some cuts and stuff like that. But second-chance points really were what put separation into the game.”

Minnesota (24-8) played well in the first frame Monday, staking itself to a nine-point advantage at the end of the quarter. That was thanks to a series of stops and hot starts from Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards. But even at the game’s outset, Finch didn’t feel as though his team was playing with high energy.

“And it kind of maintained that level,” Finch said. “They found another gear; we didn’t respond.”

New York outscored Minnesota 62-30 over a stretch of 21 minutes in the middle of the contest, which created a 21-point advantage for the Knicks. Then Finch turned to his break-glass-in-case-of-emergency player — Jordan McLaughlin.

The reserve point guard did what he has done whenever he has been called on of late, providing a spark. McLaughlin checked in with Minnesota trailing by 21 with 4 minutes, 22 seconds to play in the third. By the middle of the fourth, Minnesota was down just four. The deficit was eight when McLaughlin finally checked out in favor of Mike Conley with just fewer than five minutes to play.

In 12 minutes, McLaughlin had 12 points, three assists and two steals.

“He has now played in three of the last handful of games, and every single time he has come in and had a super positive impact. At halftime, it certainly felt like a J-Mac game, because we needed that juice,” Finch said. “We thought that position (of the ninth rotational piece) – or we still believe that position could be situational – but if somebody comes and takes it, then they come and take us. It looks like J-Mac is on his way to doing that right now.”

The offensive punch was needed on a day where few had it going for the Wolves. Edwards scored 35 points, and Towns had 29 points and six rebounds in a nice response from the big man after a rough previous couple contests.

“I thought his decision making was pretty quick. He has been kind of holding a lot. I thought this time he shot it or drove it, did a good job there,” Finch said. “We found him in the post a little bit more. Which we probably should’ve done even more so down the stretch. Got some good looks from three.”

But outside of Edwards, Towns and McLaughlin, the rest of the team combined to shoot 34 percent from the field. Minnesota tallied just 19 assists, a number that the team likes to see around 30 per game, but continues to tumble.

Towns scored 16 in the final frame, while Edwards struggled. Over the past three games, the star guard is just 5 for 17 in the fourth quarter of games.

The Wolves committed 14 turnovers that led to 23 points for New York (18-15), which was led by Julius Randle’s 39 points. Being a low-assist, high-turnover team is not a path to continued consistent success.

“Just some wild passing for the most part,” Finch said. “The same stuff that’s been plaguing us. Driving into a crowd. Trying to thread the needle on a pass into a packed paint. That kind of stuff.”

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