Karl-Anthony Towns: 'I've got to be smarter' after tough game against Clippers

The Minnesota Timberwolves beat the L.A. Clippers 109-104 Tuesday night to earn the franchise’s first playoff spot since 2018.

Patrick Beverley and Anthony Edwards did their share of celebrating, jumping on the scorer’s table and celebrating with fans, drinking Bud Light and splashing water on each other. Karl-Anthony Towns largely watched before heading to the locker room and celebrating with his teammates.

While Towns had one of his worst games of the season, Edwards and D’Angelo Russell carried the load with 59 points combined. Speaking with reporters after practice Thursday at Mayo Clinic Square, Towns wasn’t concerned about having a rough night in the biggest game of the season.

"I’m not trippin’ at all. Ready, in a good space, just good to get past the last two days and now I’m ready to really go," Towns said.

Towns finished with 11 points against the Clippers, his second-lowest point total of the season. He had five rebounds, and played just 24 minutes because of foul trouble. He missed his first seven shots from the field, and didn’t make a basket until there were less than eight minutes to play in the third quarter.

He was called for four fouls in the first half, and fouled out with 7 minutes, 34 seconds left in regulation. The Clippers played him overly-physical, and he struggled. His last foul came trying to get an offensive rebound, going over the back of Paul George.

"I have enough experience and I’ve been in this league long enough and been more than enough in one year, I’ve got to be smarter. Especially on the last one, sometimes maybe the best play is not to go get a rebound," Towns said. "I knew the game was close, I knew it was the fourth quarter, I knew every possession matters. Just the look of it, I shouldn’t put myself in that position. I’ve got to do better than that, more discipline. If that’s how the adversity for me is going to be this time around, I’ve got to be very disciplined. Just praying a lot and putting a lot of holy water on it."

So did the physicality of the Clippers bother him?

"It didn’t work, so it doesn’t irritate me at all. I went home very happy," Towns said.

It was the Timberwolves’ biggest game since the last time they made the playoffs, and coach Chris Finch thought he might have been pressing.

"Maybe a little bit. We knew what the defense was going to look like. I thought he had a couple opportunities that maybe he pressed on. I’m not worried about that, I’m really not. He’ll be fine," Finch said.

"I want to win so bad sometimes I maybe do too much. If I’ve learned anything from last game especially with how people will try to play me, this is now not a play-in, not a one game. You’re talking about a seven-game series. I expect them to be flipping things around," Towns said.

There was probably a lot going on for Towns mentally as well. Playing one of the biggest games of the year with the two-year anniversary of his mother’s death the next day. He also clearly didn’t agree with some of the calls against him, and let the officials know.

"I went through a lot adversity to say the least but at the end of the day, it’s about the win. It don’t matter about nothing else but the win," Towns said. "Last game wasn’t my finest game, a lot of adversity but at the end of the day, these guys stepped up and got the job done."

Towns knows it, Finch knows it and everyone who follows the team knows it: If the Timberwolves are going to upset No. 2-seeded Memphis, they’ll need their star at his best the entire series. He’s the face of the franchise, but insists it’s not his team.

"Do I take accountability and look at it as I’m building something special here? Yes. This is our team, this is something we gotta get done together. We’re not winning no playoff series and we’re going to make it to the Western Conference Semifinals and Finals without each other," Towns said. "Last game was evident of that, this is a team game."