MINNEAPOLIS — For most of three quarters, the Minnesota Timberwolves were in complete control against the Phoenix Suns.
A late burst by the visitors made it interesting but the Timberwolves held on late in a 121-116 win over the Suns at Target Center on Monday.
Andrew Wiggins led all scorers with 32 points as Minnesota won for the third time in four games; the Wolves are averaging 122 points per game in each of those wins.
Minnesota led by as many as 20 late in the third quarter but watched the Suns chip the lead away quickly on a 23-4 run over the final minute of the third and first half of the fourth quarter.
Ronnie Price’s steal and slam gave the Suns their first lead since the first quarter at 109-108 with four minutes left in regulation. A 19-foot jumper by Wiggins gave Minnesota the lead back before Devin Booker and Ricky Rubio traded 3-pointers, giving Minnesota a one-point lead with just over two minutes remaining.
“When you’re up by 20, it’s not easy to play,” Rubio said. “You kind of relax and they had the momentum and had everything on their favor to win the game again, but I think we came back stronger. We played smart and Wiggins made plays, so it was good.”
Phoenix had a chance to tie in the final seconds, but Mirza Teletovic’s ill-advised 3-pointer from the corner with eight seconds still on the clock missed short.
“(I was) just trying to get to the 3-point line as soon as possible and try to get it up before they try to foul me,” Teletovic said. “We needed (a) 3-pointer to go to overtime.”
Karl-Anthony Towns scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Minnesota, who had all five starters finish in double figures.
For Towns, it was his 45th double-double of the season and ninth in a row, one off his own rookie record of 10 straight games earlier this season. It was the 23rd time he scored at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.
“We did a great job playing defense, a great job playing offense and utilizing our game plan better,” Towns said. “That’s just a testament to the coaching staff.”
Wiggins scored 17 of his 32 points at the charity stripe, using an aggressive, slashing style to get to the free-throw line early and often.
Booker and Brandon Knight each had 30 points for the Suns; Knight was 10 of 16 from the floor, including 7 of 11 from beyond the arc.
“(Knight) came out motivated tonight to try and regain that momentum or you know just to come out and good players bounce back early,” Suns coach Earl Watson said. “He wanted to prove a point.”
Following a sluggish offensive outing in a 94-83 loss to the Utah Jazz on Saturday, the Timberwolves were on point offensively from the beginning against the Suns.
Towns had 18 points on 6 of 9 shooting in the first quarter alone, eight more points than the 10 Minnesota had against the Jazz.
Knight was also going good early, scoring the Suns’ first 10 points and making his first five shots of the night, including three 3-pointers, giving Phoenix a one-point lead less than four minutes into the game.
Minnesota maintained a 66-61 lead at the half behind 22 from Towns. Knight scored 27 of his points before the break.
Teletovic finished with 19 points off the bench for the Suns, who also got 14 points and 13 rebounds from Alex Len.
Zach LaVine had 15 points and Shabazz Muhammad had 10 points and five rebounds in relief for Minnesota.
NOTES: Suns C Tyson Chandler returned to the starting lineup after missing the last three games with back spasms. Chandler is averaging 6.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game this season. … Suns F Jon Leuer was active after missing one game because of illness. … Minnesota will play the final game of a three-game homestand on Wednesday when it hosts the Los Angeles Clippers at Target Center. … Phoenix will cap a quick two-game road trip the same night when it plays at Milwaukee against the Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center.