Wolves escape over Hawks 109-106 as Western Conference standings get crowded

A few notable people were back in Target Center on Friday night for the Timberwolves 109-106 win over the Hawks.

Minority owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez were sitting across from the Wolves bench for the first time since their public spat over the future of the team began with controlling owner Taylor late last month. Taylor, meanwhile, was in his usual seat near the Wolves bench.

There was another significant return for the immediate future of the team – Karl-Anthony Towns, who made his return to the lineup following left meniscus surgery that kept him out since March 4.

The Wolves benefited from the Hawks resting their starters in the fourth quarter of a game that meant nothing to Atlanta, who's locked into the No. 10 seed in the East, but still had significance for the Wolves as they try to secure as high a seed as possible.

Towns, who had 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting, saved his best for last when he hit a key three from the left corner to put the Wolves ahead 101-100 with 2 minutes, 29 seconds remaining. Then Anthony Edwards, who had struggled most of the night after landing on the injury report with an illness, hit a pair of jumpers for a 105-102 Wolves lead with 49.5 seconds to play.

While Edwards (4-for-12, 12 points) and Towns searched for their shot, Rudy Gobert had an important night offensively with 25 points on 10-for-10 shooting with 19 rebounds. Trae Young had 19 to lead Atlanta.

With the win and Denver's loss to San Antonio, the Wolves, Denver and Thunder are in a three-way tie atop the Western Conference. Oklahoma City holds the tiebreaker based on the teams' head-to-head records against each other (5-3) with the Wolves coming in second at 4-4. Denver would then be the three seed if that holds after Sunday's games.

In the first half, Naz Reid (19 points) provided a needed scoring bunch off the bench as the Wolves were slow to get going. He got to the free-throw line eight times, hit seven on his way to 15 first-half points. Edwards picked up four fouls and played just 12 minutes in the first half. He came into the night questionable because of an illness, but foul trouble also cut his minutes short.

The Wolves defense held Atlanta to just 1-for-11 from three-point range in the first half and they led 56-47 at halftime.

The Wolves led by as much as 17 in the third before it vanished by the end of the quarter. Foul trouble and an 8-for-23 shooting performance in the third allowed the Hawks to go on a 20-4 run to close the quarter.

Conley found Gobert multiple times in the screen-and-roll game in the early portion of the fourth quarter to give the Wolves a small lead. It remained a dunkfest for Gobert even after Conley checked out, as he gave the Wolves a 96-91 lead halfway through the fourth quarter.