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Tired Knicks stymie Wolves

MINNEAPOLIS -- After playing almost 41 minutes on the second night of a back-to-back, veteran forward Carmelo Anthony still found a reason to smile. It might have been one of relief. He scored 30 points and had 11 rebounds, center Robin Lopez tie...

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Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins, right, laughs with New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony during the second quarter Saturday at Target Center in Minneapolis. The Knicks defeated the Timberwolves 103-95. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn - USA Today Sports)

MINNEAPOLIS - After playing almost 41 minutes on the second night of a back-to-back, veteran forward Carmelo Anthony still found a reason to smile.

It might have been one of relief.

He scored 30 points and had 11 rebounds, center Robin Lopez tied season highs with 26 points and 16 rebounds and the New York Knicks picked up a rare win, beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 103-95 Saturday night.

“I didn’t even know I played that many minutes to be honest with you, but we needed it tonight, every minute of it,” said Anthony, who became the 30th player in NBA history with at least 22,000 points. His total now stands at 22,008.

Guard Arron Afflalo and forward Lance Thomas each scored 11 points for New York, which ended a seven-game slide and won for just the second time in 13 games.

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“Any time you get a win in the NBA, it’s a good night,” Lopez said. “Now the job is to attach two in a row, three in a row, get something rolling.”

Center Karl-Anthony Towns and guard Andrew Wiggins led the Timberwolves with 24 points each. Forward Shabazz Muhammad scored 20 off the bench. Guard Ricky Rubio dished out 16 assists, one off his career high.

“We had no energy, Wiggins said. “We came out like we had the game already and their energy ... we weren’t physical. We can’t let it happen again.”

After Friday’s 109-98 loss in Brooklyn, a game in which New York allowed 20-2 and 16-2 second-half runs, Anthony said the Knicks can’t be giving away games.

They didn’t this time.

New York jumped out to a 13-point lead less than five minutes into the game and seemed destined for an easy win. However, on three occasions when Minnesota cut the deficit to single digits, the Knicks would go on a short surge to push the lead back into the 13- or 15-point range.

Trailing 63-48 early in the second half, Wiggins scored six points during an 8-0 Minnesota run, but New York scored 16 of the next 18, six by Anthony. The Knicks outscored the Timberwolves 18-4 in the final eight minutes of the third quarter for an 81-61 cushion heading to the fourth.

“I think it’s as simple as just being focused on that effort,” Lopez said. “We came out in the second half and we made our run, and then they made their little mini-run, and we knew how we had to react to that.”

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Rubio and the Timberwolves were left wondering why they again failed to play 48 strong minutes.

“We didn’t start the game the way we wanted and we didn’t play aggressive until the last quarter. It’s an old story that’s happening again,” he said.

Lopez, averaging 9.3 points per game, had 16 points - the most he’s scored in a frame in his career - and seven rebounds in the first quarter.

The 7-footer had six points down low as New York jumped out to a 14-1 lead. Minnesota, which made just two of its last 17 shots Friday, started zero-for-7 from the field. Four more points by Lopez made it 18-6.

He was able to do it against a team that was lacking inside depth with forwards Kevin Garnett and Nemanja Bjelica and center Nikola Pekovic out with injuries.

Interim Minnesota coach Sam Mitchell can only do so much with his currently undersized roster.

“When we go small, we don’t go small at 6-8, 6-9, we go small at 6-4, 6-5 and then we don’t have any girth. We’re young, our guys haven’t developed, their bodies haven’t developed and that’s obvious.”

Trailing by 21 at one point early in the second quarter, Towns had four points in an 8-0 run that got Minnesota within 12 at 39-27. A 3-pointer by Muhammad closed the gap to 51-43 about five minutes later.

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Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis was in foul trouble and finished with just six points in 12 minutes. He committed his fourth foul early in the second half.

“It wasn’t me being overexcited or trying to prove something,” he said. “It was just me not being smart enough.”

Related Topics: MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
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