Los Angeles—Karl-Anthony Towns scored 27 points to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 128-96 rout of Orlando, then lifted the lid on how emotional it is for him to play on Mother’s Day.
“I been emotional all day,” Towns said. “I told my dad it will be very difficult to come out here. But my family, my memories, and this team gives me strength to come out here and play the game.
“It is difficult, but to all the mothers out (there) that hold the house down, and all mothers not here anymore… today is for you. Happy Mother’s Day. There is no bigger job in the world than a mother.”
The two-time all-star Towns lost his mother, Jacqueline Towns, to COVID-19 last April. He spent the day with his father Karl-Anthony Towns Sr, and the two shared a touching embrace at courtside before Sunday’s victory in Florida.
“It’ll be emotional. But it’ll be rewarding because she’ll be happy to know we’re still doing the stuff that she would want us to do,” Towns Sr told USA Today.
Towns not only lost his mother, but also six other family members over the last year to the coronavirus. Then, he tested positive in January. The NBA season was on pause last spring when Towns’ mother died.
Towns and D’Angelo Russell both finished with 27 points as the Timberwolves snapped a three-game losing streak.
Towns also had nine rebounds and four assists, and Russell chipped in eight assists and six rebounds.
Elsewhere, Tim Hardaway scored 25 points and drained seven threes as red-hot Dallas overcame the ejection of their top scorer Luka Doncic to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-97.
Dallas won their fourth consecutive contest in the second game of a home-and-home series to improve to 40-28 on the season. The Mavericks are in fifth place in the Western Conference with four games left in the regular season.
Doncic was ejected just under two minutes into the third quarter for fouling Cavaliers’ Collin Sexton as the two tussled under the basket. Sexton appeared to push Doncic, who swung his arm backwards, striking Sexton near the groin area.
Dallas was already playing without Kristaps Porzingis, who has missed six straight games and nine of the past 10 with a sore right knee.
Josh Richardson added 20 points for the Mavericks, Jalen Brunson hit for 13 points and Dwight Powell scored 12.
Meanwhile, the New York Knicks showed why they are headed to the postseason as Derrick Rose scored 25 points in a 106-100 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Knicks used a combination of well-executed perimeter shooting and solid defense to break down Los Angeles and bust the game open in the second quarter before holding on in the fourth for their third win on a six-game road swing.
The Knicks also have two losses on the road trip, which closes Tuesday against the reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.
Rose came off the bench to deliver eight assists, while Reggie Bullock scored 24 points and made five threes for the Knicks, who have five games left in the season and all against clubs headed to the postseason.
RJ Barrett added 18 points, and Julius Randle chipped in 14 points and 14 rebounds as the Knicks went a perfect nine-for-nine from the free-throw line.
‘’He’s sort of the unsung hero. Every night he’s guarding a tough opponent, he never stops working on the defensive end,’’ Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said of Bullock. ‘’He’s got to continue to do that for us, it opens up so many things.’’
The Clippers came into the game as the league’s top three-point shooting team, but New York had a plan for that, holding them to 12-of-35, or just 34 percent from long distance.
Clippers top scorer Kawhi Leonard was kept off his game, making just nine of 26 shots from the floor to finish with 29 points.
The Knicks improved to 38-30 to hold onto the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, just in front of the Atlanta Hawks and the Miami Heat.
Elsewhere, Jimmy Butler tallied 22 of his 26 points in the second half as the Miami Heat strengthened their grip on the sixth seed in the East with a 130-124 win over the Boston Celtics.