If the Timberwolves don’t want to be entirely out of the Western Conference playoff picture by the time Karl-Anthony Towns returns to the lineup, they’ll have to win a few games.
Games like Sunday night.
A short-handed Minnesota topped Cleveland 109-104 at Target Center to earn its fifth win of the season, largely thanks to strong performance by the Timberwolves’ top three scoring options.
Malik Beasley carried the Timberwolves through the first half, Anthony Edwards scored 13 in the third quarter, and D’Angelo Russell closed the deal late.
All three likely have to be relied upon to carry the load when the Wolves are without the likes of Towns, Juancho Hernangomez, Naz Reid and Jarrett Culver, as was the case Sunday.
Beasley scored 16 in the first half alone, including a tough triple to close the second quarter that trimmed Minnesota’s halftime deficit to 61-55.
In the third, it was Edwards who changed the game in Minnesota’s favor.
In the fourth, Russell hit a pair of triples late that helped put the game away.
Edwards and Beasley each scored 23, while Russell scored 19.
But it wasn’t just offensively where Minnesota closed the game late. After getting destroyed on the interior in the first half by Cavaliers’ big man Andre Drummond, Minnesota held Drummond to just two made field goals in the second half.
Cleveland went 10 minutes without a bucket in the fourth quarter.
The Cavaliers (9-11) committed 19 turnovers for the game that resulted in 29 points for Minnesota (5-14), while the Wolves turned the ball over just 10 times. That made up the difference on the glass, where Cleveland outrebounded the Wolves 55-34.