Timberwolves fans, we put together a list of the most rewatchable moments in their 30-year history. This is part of an 11-part series at SKOR North. We’ve decided to roll out the games/events in chronological order.
The Timberwolves came into this late-March game against the Atlanta Hawks in eighth place in the Western Conference at 42-33, but were coming off a brutal loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. They had been without Jimmy Butler for a little over a month at this point due to Butler tearing his meniscus in a February 23 game against the Houston Rockets, at which point the Timberwolves sat in third place in the Conference.
At this point in time, everyone recognized the superstar potential Karl-Anthony Towns possessed, and they were waiting for him to unleash it. However, for most of the 2017-18 season, it was as if Towns was taking a backseat to Jimmy Butler in a season in which many people thought Towns would emerge as an alpha dog in the league. Towns did make his first All-Star appearance during this season, but was berated by Butler day in and day out calling him soft, going after him in practice, and everything else you’ve heard about the Butler-Towns “relationship.”
This game against the Hawks without Jimmy Butler was exactly what Towns needed to show everyone what he could do. What seemingly looked like a normal regular season game was anything but that. Karl-Anthony Towns took over from the very start, shooting 19-32 from the field and 12-15 from the free throw line. His 56 points that night set a single-game franchise-record, as he passed the previous record of 52 points from… Mo Williams? He also passed Timberwolves legend Corey Brewer’s 51-point game.
Adding onto what was already a record-setting night, he also grabbed 15 rebounds and a league-leading 63 double-double. His 56 points and 15 rebounds made him only the fifth player in the past 30 years to have a 55+ point, 15+ rebound game. The only other players to do so? Karl Malone, Shaquille O’Neal, Anthony Davis, and Michael Jordan.
Some pretty elite company for the Wolves big man.
On a side note, one of the best parts of this game happened the night before, as Towns and Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons were playing the video game “PUBG” online late into the night.
Towns explained he couldn’t stay on much longer, to which Simmons replied, “Play one. You got time. Who do you play tomorrow?” Karl-Anthony Towns responded, simply, with “Hawks.” Simmons quickly says, “Oh, you’ve got plenty of time.”