MINNEAPOLIS (AP)Julius Randle scored 31 points and had eight of New York’s season-high 19 3-pointers, and the Knicks cruised to a 120-107 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.
Jalen Brunson pitched in 23 points and eight assists, RJ Barrett had 22 points and Obi Toppin scored 15 points off the bench for the Knicks (5-5), who built a lead as big as 27 points in the second quarter and never encountered any resistance.
Karl-Anthony Towns scored 25 points on 9-for-12 shooting with 13 rebounds and seven assists for the Timberwolves (5-6), who faced a deficit of double-digit points over the final 35-plus minutes of the game. Anthony Edwards had 16 points and nine rebounds
Frustrated Timberwolves coach Chris Finch gave a few of his reserves some extended time in search of a spark, and a layup by Austin Rivers cut the lead to 105-91 with 9:32 to go. But Randle hit a step-back 3-pointer just a few seconds after re-entering for the final stretch to make it 108-92.
With center Rudy Gobert in the COVID-19 health and safety protocols and out for a second straight game, the Timberwolves looked out of it from the start. They gave up a pair of 38-point quarters to finish the first half in a huge hole at 76-52.
The Knicks needed only 98 seconds for a 10-0 run capped by Toppin’s dunk right after a timeout for the Timberwolves that was backgrounded by heavy boos from the home crowd, and their 60-33 lead was only whittled by three points at the break.
The Timberwolves stopped a three-game losing streak by beating Houston on Saturday with 61% shooting from the floor in Gobert’s first absence, but none of that ball movement and active defense carried over two nights later against their former coach Tom Thibodeau.
The Knicks, who played their second game without injured center Mitchell Robinson, fared just fine on defense without their primary rim protector. They tightened up on the perimeter, too, after allowing a franchise-record 27 3-pointers in a 133-118 loss to Boston on Saturday.
ORANGE (AND BLUE) JULIUS
Randle went 5 for 7 from 3-point range in the first quarter, camping out on the wing and making the Timberwolves pay for their lifelessness on defense.
The Knicks went 10 for 19 from deep, their most makes in the opening period according to Sportradar since such data was tracked starting in 1996. Their franchise high for any quarter was 11 made 3-pointers in the second quarter against the Celtics on April 17, 2012, per Sportradar.
The Knicks started Jericho Sims at center, after 7-footer Isaiah Hartenstein took the first replacement assignment for Robinson against the Celtics on Saturday. Sims is a native of Minneapolis, a product of Cristo Rey High School less than 3 miles from Target Center. The 6-foot-10 Sims, who had four points, four rebounds and five fouls in 17 minutes, was a second-round draft pick out of Texas in 2021.
Knicks: The reserves went 10 for 10 on free throws for the Knicks, who were 23 for 25 as a team from the foul line. … Barrett and Toppin each made three 3-pointers.
Timberwolves: Kyle Anderson got his second straight start with Gobert sidelined and Towns moved back to the middle. He had nine points in 25 minutes. … Rivers had a season-high nine points in 16 minutes.
Knicks: Visit the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.
Timberwolves: Host the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night.
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