WASHINGTON – The Minnesota Timberwolves had no problem in their first game without star center Karl-Anthony Towns.
Andrew Wiggins scored 21 points, Robert Covington and Jarrett Culver each added 20 and the Timberwolves cruised to a 131-109 victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night.
It was tough game for Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura, who had 23 points in just his fourth professional game, but was held to four on Saturday. He missed nine of his 11 field goals. Hachimura grabbed just one rebound and finished with no assists in 22 minutes on the floor.
Hachimura entered the game averaging 18 points in his first four contests and head coach Scott Brooks knew he was due for a slump.
“You have one bad game,” Brooks said. “Let’s not make it two. If it’s two, let’s not make it three.”
By necessity, guard Bradley Beal must serve as a mentor to Hachimura.
“He’ll learn that as he continues to play, the game will slow down for him,” Beal said. “Right now it’s probably 100 mph (161 kph).”
Towns was serving the first of a two-game suspension for fighting with Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid on Wednesday. In his first four games, Towns was among the league leaders in scoring and rebounds.
“We knew we were missing Kat,” Wiggins said. “Kat’s not somebody you can replace, so everyone had to step up, and that’s what everyone did.
“You’ve just got to remember, we play a certain way. You don’t want to get out of character.”
Minnesota, which improved to 4-1 for the first time since 2012-13, had six players in double figures.
Bradley Beal scored 30 points for Washington (1-4). The Wizards began the 2018-19 season with seven losses in eight games.
“We were in a fog,” coach Scott Brooks said. “There’s no excuses. It’s on me.”
Minnesota led throughout the game. The Wolves were already ahead by 10 with 3 ½ minutes gone in the second quarter and increased their lead steadily.
Wiggins’ 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the third quarter extended the lead to 106-72.
Gorgui Dieng, who started in place of Towns, scored 18 points. Jeff Teague had 15 points and 13 assists, and Jake Layman added 14 points.
Dieng had played just six minutes all season, not getting to play in three of the first four games.
“Even though he wasn’t playing this year, he stayed ready, he stayed in place,” Wiggins said. “And whenever he got his chance, he maximized it.”
After losing 159-158 to Houston on Wednesday, the Wizards completely fell apart against the Timberwolves.
Minnesota won the last meeting between the teams on March 9, and this game broke a pattern of alternating wins and losses over 20 meetings that began March 9, 2009.
In Other Games
Bucks 115, Raptors 105
In Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo had 36 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists to lead the Bucks to victory in the first meeting between the teams since the Eastern Conference finals.
Eric Bledsoe added 14 points and five assists, and Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez each had 11 points.
Milwaukee had the best record in the East last season and took a 2-0 lead over Toronto in the conference finals, but the Raptors took the next four en route to their first NBA championship.
In this rematch, Kyle Lowry scored a season-high 36 points and Pascal Siakam had 16 for Toronto.
Pistons 113, Nets 109
In Detroit, Andre Drummond had 25 points and 20 rebounds, Bruce Brown added career highs of 22 points and seven assists and Detroit beat Brooklyn.
Luke Kennard finished with 24 points and helped seal it with a driving basket and two free throws in the final 30 seconds of both teams’ second game in two nights.
Suns 14, Grizzlies 105
In Memphis, Devin Booker scored 21 points and Aron Baynes hit a career-high four 3-pointers and had 20 points for Phoenix.
The two combined to shoot 14 of 23 from the field and the Suns finished at 50 percent, going 14 of 34 from 3-point range. Kelly Oubre Jr. added 15 points and Frank Kaminsky had 14.
Hornets 93, Warriors 87
Nuggets 91, Magic 87
Thunder 115, Pelicans 104
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5