Karl-Anthony Towns returned from a lengthy absence to score 22 points, including the two game-winning free throws with 3.6 seconds left, to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 125-124 win over the visiting Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.
Towns was fouled by Atlanta's John Collins and the call was verified after the Hawks challenged. Towns made both free throws and, after calling timeout, Atlanta's last-second shot by De'Andre Hunter was well off the mark.
Towns had not played since Nov. 28, missing 51 games with a Grade 3 calf strain. He showed no effects from the layoff, shooting 8-for-18 from the field, 2-for-3 on 3-pointers, and 4-for-4 from the line, with four rebounds and three assists.
Minnesota (37-37) got 26 points off the bench from Naz Reid, who shot 11-for-15 from the floor, and 25 points and six rebounds from Jaden McDaniels. The Timberwolves were without leading scorer Anthony Edwards for the third straight game because of a sprained right ankle.
Atlanta (36-37) was led by Trae Young, who went 14-for-16 from the line and scored 29 points with eight assists. Hunter, Collins and Saddiq Bey each scored 16.
The Hawks used a 14-2 run, with Hunter nailing a pair of 3-pointers, and took a 40-39 lead after the first quarter. Minnesota was 8-for-12 on 3-pointers and Atlanta was 5-for-7 from long distance. Both teams cooled off in the second quarter and Minnesota, behind seven points from McDaniels, took a 67-62 halftime lead.
Bey scored 11 in the third quarter and the Hawks carried a 97-94 lead into the final quarter. The Hawks led 111-101 with 7:18 remaining, but allowed Minnesota to score 10 straight and tied the game with 5:49 left.
Atlanta played without second-leading scorer Dejounte Murray for the second night. He remained home with a non-COVID illness. Reserve Jalen Johnson missed his fourth straight game with a left hamstring and groin strain.
--Field Level Media