Julius Randle hit the tying and go-ahead free throws with 32 seconds remaining Sunday as the host New York Knicks squandered a 21-point third-quarter lead before coming back for a 103-99 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Knicks were outscored 33-11 over a nearly 13-minute span beginning late in the third quarter before Randle’s free throws began a game-ending sequence in which New York made all six of its shots from the line. Alec Burks made four of his own in the final 20.9 seconds.
Randle finished with a team-high 25 points and 14 rebounds for the Knicks, who have won four of five. RJ Barrett scored 21 points while Burks added 13. Elfrid Payton had 11 points for New York, while Reggie Bullock and Nerlens Noel added 10 each.
The Timberwolves announced after the game that coach Ryan Saunders had been fired. He had a 43-94 record in parts of three seasons as head coach.
Karl-Anthony Towns finished with a game-high 27 points and 15 rebounds for the Timberwolves, including 15 points and nine rebounds during the fourth quarter when he led Minnesota’s rally.
Ricky Rubio had 18 points for the Timberwolves, rookie Anthony Edwards scored 12 points and Naz Reid added 11 points off the bench for Minnesota, which has lost four consecutive.
The Knicks took their biggest lead at 86-65 following a pair of free throws by Randle with 1:48 left in the third. A four-point play by Juancho Hernangomez highlighted a 6-1 run to end the quarter by the Timberwolves, who rode the momentum into the fourth quarter.
A three-point play by Jaden McDaniels pulled the Timberwolves within 95-94 with 4:01 remaining. Towns drained a sky hook to give Minnesota a 96-95 lead with 2:48 remaining, its first lead since 13-11 in the first quarter.
The Knicks regained the lead on a driving layup by Barrett with 1:59 left, after which Towns hit a pair of free throws for a 98-97 Minnesota advantage with 1:44 remaining.
The teams combined to miss their next four shots before Randle drove the lane on Towns and drew the foul. A baseline turnaround shot by Towns rimmed in and out with 23 seconds left and Burks hit two free throws to give New York a 101-98 lead.
Rubio hit one free throw on the Timberwolves’ next possession, but Randle muscled his way to the rebound and passed to Burks, who iced the victory with two more free throws.
–Field Level Media