Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) gestures after a foul called on Utah Jazz guard Talen Horton-Tucker during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Karl-Anthony Towns had 32 points and 11 rebounds, and the Minnesota Timberwolves weathered the absence of leading scorer Anthony Edwards to beat the Utah Jazz 101-90 on Thursday night.
The Wolves moved into a tie with Boston for the best record in the league (14-4).
Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored a season-high 20 points and Rudy Gobert had 15 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks for Minnesota.
Acquired in a trade with Utah last season that also brought veteran guard Mike Conley to the Wolves, Alexander-Walker had the chance to show his former team what he’s capable of when given the opportunity.
“You try not to make it personal, because you want to come out the same way against every other team,” Alexander-Walker said. “But I’m human at the end of the day, so it still feels good to win.”
Edwards, who averages 26.2 points per game, was sidelined with a right hip pointer he suffered in Tuesday’s win over Oklahoma City. Coach Chris Finch said Thursday he didn’t expect Edwards to be out long.
The Wolves improved to 9-1 at home, while the Jazz fell to 1-9 on the road.
Simone Fontecchio led Utah with 16 points and five assists. Ochai Agbaji had in 13 points and six rebounds for the Jazz, who also lost Wednesday at Memphis.
Utah shot 37.9% from the field, including 32.4% from 3-point range.
“Tonight, we really ultimately just struggled to put the ball in the basket,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “Minnesota is one of the best defensive teams in the league for a reason. … They did a really good job of being disruptive tonight.”
Alexander-Walker helped ignite a 15-0 run in the second quarter that helped pull Minnesota out of a slow start. Part of that run was an easy layup for Alexander-Walker after one of his five steals.
“I thought that his intensity on the perimeter defensively sort of set the stage for their defense,” Hardy said.
Towns scored seven straight points during the 15-0 run on the way to topping 30 points for the second time this season.
“We needed his firepower out there,” Finch said. “We needed a guy that we know we could go to to get a bucket.”
The Wolves shot 9 of 22 in the first quarter and trailed 23-20. Towns picked up his second foul with just over five minutes to play in the period.
Alexander-Walker scored 10 points in the second quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Minnesota outscored Utah 35-19 in the third quarter.
Jazz: At Portland on Saturday night.
Timberwolves: At Charlotte on Saturday.