MINNEAPOLIS — Karl-Anthony Towns scored a franchise-record 62 points, including 44 in the first half, but the Charlotte Hornets erased an 18-point deficit and stunned the Minnesota Timberwolves 128-125 on Monday night.
Towns topped his previous career best of 60, which was also the Minnesota record.
However, Towns managed just four points on 2-for-10 shooting in the fourth quarter, when the Timberwolves were outscored 36-18. He thought he was fouled on a drive to the basket in the closing seconds with Minnesota trailing by one, then was short on a 3-point attempt on the final possession.
Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch lit into his team after the game, calling it an «absolute disgusting performance of defense and immature basketball.» Finch went on to criticize how the Timberwolves responded to Towns’ hot start, saying they stopped looking to make the right play.
«I mean there’s lots of times when, just because you’ve scored two or three or four points in a row, or baskets in a row … you know obviously we’re going to try to feed a hot hand, look for a hot hand, but at some point we got to get back to making the right play, we got to get back to doing the right things,» Finch said.
Towns finished 21-for-35 from the floor, including 10-for-15 from 3-point range, and now owns the top three scoring outputs in the Wolves’ 35-year history.
«Having a night like that on a loss doesn’t feel very good or historic,» Towns said.
The Wolves ran an isolation look for Towns with 12 seconds left, but Leaky Black blocked his driving layup attempt and then hit a pair of free throws at the other end.
Towns’ unsuccessful desperation 3 inside the final second ensured this was the 21st time in NBA history a player scored 60 or more points in a loss.
Towns said there was no silver lining to his performance given the loss.
«We’re No. 1 in the West, one of the best teams in NBA; there ain’t no time for moral victories, silver linings, ‘great night, but just not a finish we wanted.’ We’ve got to find a way to win,» he said. «It’s about winning the game. It’s about staying No. 1 in the West. It’s about protecting our home court more, most importantly above all things.»
In the first half, Towns was 14-for-17 from the field and 8-of-9 from 3-point range as the Wolves took a 69-64 lead. The eight 3-pointers in a half were two shy of the NBA record. The NBA record for points in a first half is shared by David Thompson and George Gervin with 53.
Miles Bridges scored 28 points and Brandon Miller had 27 for the Hornets, who had lost seven of their past eight games and had the Eastern Conference’s third-worst mark entering Monday. Minnesota, meanwhile, has now lost two games in a row for just the second time this season.
«Like I said, there’s a lot of ways to be immature,» Finch said. «There’s always a lot of ways to be immature. There was a lot of immature performances here throughout the roster. We totally disrespected the game, ourselves, and we got exactly what we deserved.»
The Associated Press contributed to this story.