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Towns looks to get to the foul line more often

Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) argues a call with referee Jonathan Sterling (17) during last week's game against the Washington Wizards at Target Center. Brace Hemmelgarn / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS—After the Minnesota Timberwolves' loss to Washington last week, Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau wanted to look at the film for a number of reasons.

One of which was to see why Karl-Anthony Towns didn't attempt a single free throw.

"It seems like a guy that goes to the basket as much as he does should get at least a couple free throws," Thibodeau said.

Thibodeau shared that same sentiment after several games last season. The thought is, given Towns' playing style, the third-year big man should make more trips to the line. Both Towns and Thibodeau thought the trend of the big man not getting to the line would change this season.

"I think refs were still getting used to how I play (last season)," Towns said this preseason. "I look back at my game ... I play a very funky style of basketball. It's very unorthodox at times, it looks very weird, like 'I don't know why he's shooting that,' and it's a very comfortable shot to me, so I think the refs are just getting used to it."

Said Thibodeau before the season: "I think (getting calls from officials) comes in time. I think, when you look at when you have a young player come into the league, I think the referees have to get a good understanding of his game. (Towns) can make things look real easy. And sometimes, and he's a lot stronger than he looks, and same thing with Wigg, so when there is contact, sometimes they haven't gotten the call, but I think now that they've gotten that experience, particularly after looking at the contact they took on last year, they both should've been at the line a lot more than they were."

Neither has. Andrew Wiggins free-throw rate (.353)—the number of free throws taken per field-goal attempt—is about where it was a year ago, and significantly lower than it was during his first two seasons. Towns' free-throw rate is .293 this season, just a tick up from last season (.289).

Through Friday's games, Towns ranked 13th in the NBA in shots in the restricted area (135), but just 28th in free-throw attempts (99). Towns ranks fifth on his own team in free-throw rate, Gorgui Dieng, Wiggins, Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague.

Through 191 games, Towns still hasn't gained the respect of the officials.

"That's no comment by me," Towns said after the Washington game. "I ain't getting into that conversation."

Said Thibodeau: ""There's a physicality in there. Sometimes you get the calls, sometimes you don't."

Easy pickings?

The Timberwolves have an opportunity to make a move up the Western Conference standings over the next two weeks.

Starting with Minnesota's home game against the Clippers on Sunday, Dec. 3, the Timberwolves' next seven games are against opponents with a combined record of 56-97, and five of those seven games are at Target Center. Over the next two weeks, the Wolves' only game against an opponent with a plus-.500 record is at home against Philadelphia on Dec. 12.

The Timberwolves (13-10) have the sixth-best record in the Western Conference. The teams currently seeded Nos. 4-8 in the West are separated by two games.

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