Porzingis, Knicks outlast Towns, Wolves 106-104
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MINNEAPOLIS — Kristaps Porzingis and Karl-Anthony Towns are building a tantalizing rivalry for the NBA's new age.
Carmelo Anthony let the kids have their fun until it was time to go home.
Porzingis had 29 points and eight rebounds and Towns had 47 points and 18 boards, but Anthony hit the winning jumper with 2.3 seconds left, lifting the New York Knicks to a 106-104 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
"I mean the sky's the limit for those two guys in this league," said Antony, who had just 12 points on 4-for-15 shooting before splashing the winner over Andrew Wiggins' outstretched hand. "With Towns, the way he's playing, Kristaps getting better and better each day, they'll be around for a long time and, you know, they'll be the face of this league in a couple years."
The 21-year-old Towns is the third-youngest player in the last three decades to have at least 45 points and 15 rebounds in a game.
The Wolves used a 20-3 run to tie it at 102 with under a minute to play, but Porzingis threw Gorgui Dieng aside for a putback slam and Anthony tipped the inbounds pass on Minnesota's final possession to thwart the comeback.
"I think it was a good show for everybody," Porzingis said. "But the most important is we got the win."
Brandon Jennings scored 12 points off the bench and Porzingis had a big block against his friend and draft classmate Towns to help the Knicks weather the loss of Joakim Noah, who sat out with a sprained left ankle. New York made 13 3-pointers to Minnesota's four.
After the Timberwolves lost to Utah on Monday, a despondent Towns vowed to do more to help his team win. He came out a man on fire, scoring 22 points on 8-for-8 shooting and grabbing seven rebounds in the first quarter.
"I'm so proud of all of my teammates," said Towns, whose Wolves fell to 5-13. "The fight that we have every time we're down to comeback and find a way to put ourselves back in a game is the reason why I think so many find the potential in us to be great."
Knicks: SG Courtney Lee only played eight minutes because of a sprained left ankle. ... Coach Jeff Hornacek said F Lance Thomas, who has not played yet because of a sore left ankle, had a good workout during shootaround and will practice on Friday in the hopes of playing in the next game or two.
Timberwolves: Wiggins had 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists. ... Towns' 22 points in the first quarter were two off of Chauncey Billups' franchise record of 24. ... G/F Brandon Rush was inactive with a sore big toe that has bothered him for much of the season.
The two young stars rarely guarded each other, but Towns did go at Porzingis late in the second quarter, rising up to try to dunk on him only to have the Latvian emphatically stuff him for Towns' first missed shot in 11 attempts.
"He tried," Porzingis said. "He was being super aggressive. He was driving to the basket, shooting from the outside, playing in the post. He was doing everything. He was playing an overall game, and it was really hard to stop him."
The Bulls made the playoffs all five seasons with coach Tom Thibodeau leading Derrick Rose and Noah. Rose and Noah were two players Thibodeau, now with Minnesota, deeply respected for their competitive drive and determination.
"You don't realize what you have with him until he's not around," Noah said. "He used to tell me that when I played for him because we used to butt heads all the time. He's definitely one of the tops in the business."
Two Knicks assistants have Minnesota ties, with Kurt Rambis a former head coach and Jerry Sichting spending a total of 13 years in two separate stints as an assistant.
"It's still special," Sichting said. "I still know a lot of people in the organization and around town. I don't miss the winters around here, but I always enjoy coming back."
The two teams meet again in two days, this time in Manhattan on Friday night for a game in which Thibodeau will return to the arena he called home for seven seasons as a Knicks assistant.