Short-handed T-Wolves snap 2-game skid, beat Celtics 108-103
Jaylen Nowell scored 29 points and Nathan Knight added 20 points and 11 rebounds, leading the short-handed Minnesota Timberwolves to a 108-103 win over the Boston Celtics on Monday night.
Jaden McDaniels scored 17 points and Malik Beasley added 15 points and eight rebounds for the Wolves, who were playing without all five of their regular starters due to COVID-19 protocols.
Veteran center Greg Monroe, signed to a 10-day contract earlier in the day, had 11 points and nine rebounds in 25 minutes for the Wolves, who snapped a two-game losing streak.
Jaylen Brown led Boston with 26 points. Payton Pritchard scored 22 points and Al Horford added 16 points and nine rebounds.
COVID-19 played a huge role in the game, as both teams’ lineups were decimated. The Timberwolves played without their top three scorers — center Karl-Anthony Towns and guards Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell.
Meanwhile, Celtics leading scorer Jayson Tatum missed his first game this year after he was added to the league’s health and safety protocols list on Monday.
Nowell and Knight took advantage of the opportunity to post career highs in scoring.
A 13-0 run to end the second quarter gave Boston a 56-45 halftime lead. But the Timberwolves chipped away, with Knight scoring their first eight points of the third quarter. A three-point play by McDaniels cut Boston’s lead to five at the end of the period.
Nowell’s fifth 3-pointer of the game tied the score 79-all early in the fourth quarter. Then, after the Celtics missed a pair of free throws, Nowell drove the lane for a ferocious one-handed dunk in traffic.
Knight and Beasley followed with consecutive 3-pointers to give the Wolves an 87-81 lead, forcing a Celtics timeout with 8:32 to go.
After a 3-pointer by Horford, Nowell hit another 3 and Monroe added a tip-in to put Minnesota up by nine. The Wolves held Boston at a distance the rest of the way.
The Timberwolves got consecutive baskets from Beasley and Nowell late in the second quarter to take a 45-43 lead. However, two Pritchard 3-pointers bookended three straight jumpers by Brown as the Celtics rattled off the final 13 points of the quarter.
Celtics: G Marcus Smart also missed the game due to a cut on his hand. … Besides Tatum, Boston’s COVID-19 restricted list also included C Bruno Fernando, C Enes Freedom, F Justin Jackson, G C.J. Miles, F Aaron Nesmith, G Josh Richardson and G Dennis Schroder.
Timberwolves: Russell was the Wolves’ latest addition to the health and safety protocol list, where he joined starting forwards Patrick Beverly and Jarred Vanderbilt, as well as reserve F Taurean Prince and C Naz Reid. … G Josh Okogie returned after missing three games on the restricted list.
Celtics: Host the Clippers on Wednesday.
Timberwolves: Host the Knicks on Tuesday.