Hawks’ 4th-Quarter Slow-Down Means 92-84 Loss To Minnesota

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Hawks won at Oklahoma City without Dwight Howard, but they couldn’t manage a repeat at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves two days later.

Karl-Anthony Towns, taking advantage of the absence of the 6-foot-11 Howard, had 17 points and 17 rebounds as the Timberwolves defeated the Hawks 92-84 on Wednesday night for their first consecutive victories this season.

Andrew Wiggins scored 19 points and Zach LaVine had 17 points for Minnesota (9-19) as the Timberwolves followed up a home victory on Monday against Phoenix.

Dennis Schroder had 21 points and seven assists as the Hawks (14-15) lost for the sixth time in their past seven home games.

Paul Millsap, who started at center with Howard sidelined by back tightness, had 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Mike Muscala scored 16 points off the bench, hitting his first six shots.

Wiggins broke a tie at 80 with a 3-point play midway in the fourth quarter and Gorgui Dieng clinched it for the Timberwolves on a basket with 42.3 seconds left.

Muscala had 11 points in the third quarter and the Hawks led 69-67 going into the final period thanks to a dunk by Kent Bazemore in the closing seconds.

The Hawks jumped to a quick 10-point lead at Oklahoma City with a small lineup, but they trailed 12-2 against the Timberwolves before inserting the 6-foot-11 Muscala to help Millsap inside.

Although Atlanta went on a 14-0 run shortly afterward, Minnesota was up 28-26 after the first period and 49-44 at halftime.

Towns had 12 points and 10 rebounds in the first half, assuring a ninth straight double-double. Millsap had 12 points and seven rebounds to lead the Hawks.

Hawks guard Tim Hardaway Jr., who averages 11.7 points per game off the bench, suffered a groin strain in the first quarter and didn’t return after playing just 63 seconds.

NOTES: Although Hawks C Dwight Howard said that his tight back “continues to get better,” he missed a second consecutive game. The decision to hold out Howard wasn’t made until about an hour before tip-off against the Timberwolves. “It’s something we want to be on top of and maybe even ahead of,” coach Mike Budenholzer said of Howard’s back issue. … The Hawks and Timberwolves play again on Monday in Minnesota to complete the two-game season series. … The Timberwolves won both games last season, with F Andrew Wiggins scoring 33 points in a 117-107 victory at Atlanta. … Minnesota is at home against Sacramento on Friday, then plays at Oklahoma City on Christmas night. … The Hawks are at Denver on Friday. … Atlanta rookie F DeAndre Bembry will be assigned to the NBA Development League for a third time and play a game for Salt Lake City on Thursday.

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