Karl-Anthony Towns loved performing in front of his home fans, especially in the building where his NBA dream was realized.
The former University of Kentucky star had 24 points and 10 rebounds in the arena where he was taken with the No. 1 pick in the June draft, and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Brooklyn Nets 100-85.
The New Jersey product, who had dinner with his parents Saturday and thought his grandmother was in the crowd, said he was ecstatic even early in the game, before his shots started falling.
“It felt like I was at the park out here tonight,” he said, “just having a blast, having fun and no matter what happened.”
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He learned later his grandmother was not there. Towns said he purchased League Pass for so she could watch all his games on TV.
He added that she wanted him to play baseball for the New York Yankees, but nobody can question his choice now, nor the one the Timberwolves made when they selected the 7-footer.
“I was just in the hallway warming up before the game and I remember walking through that hallway right when I just got drafted to the Minnesota Timberwolves and just (being) so happy. Brings back so many memories, Barclays does,” Towns said. “Madison Square Garden may have my heart since I was a child but Barclays is where my life really started.”
Former Louisville standout Gorgui Dieng added 20 points and 10 boards to lead a strong bench unit that blew the game open in the fourth quarter. Andrew Wiggins scored 16 points and Ricky Rubio had 15 assists.
Brook Lopez had 20 points, 12 rebounds and five assists for the Nets, who dropped their fifth straight.
“It’s nothing Xs or Os or anything like that,” Lopez said. “It was just energy and effort.”
Kevin Garnett was scoreless but grabbed seven rebounds in his first visit to Brooklyn since the Nets dealt him after 1 1 / 2 seasons to Minnesota for Thaddeus Young at the trade deadline.
The Wolves led nearly the whole way in their second straight victory. They were up 10 after one quarter and that was still the lead heading to the fourth, before a 12-3 spurt featuring two 3-pointers from Kevin Martin turned it into a 91-72 rout.
Rubio traced the Wolves’ strong play to the second half of their loss Wednesday to the Knicks, when they nearly erased a huge deficit.
“I would say the last six quarters before this game were where this team wants to be and today was more of the same,” he said. “We controlled the game from the beginning until the end.”
Martin had 16 points and fellow reserve Zach LaVine scored 10.
Towns was offered condolences for No. 4 Kentucky’s loss here Saturday to Ohio State.
“Condolences? I didn’t know there was a death,” said Towns, who led the Wildcats to 38 straight wins and the Final Four last season. “I think the worst thing that’s happened to this year’s team is last year’s team, just how much pressure we put on them because of what we were able to accomplish last year.”