Karl-Anthony Towns returns to Wolves after harrowing highway crash

Karl-Anthony Towns was on his way to meet the Minnesota Timberwolves at the airport Thursday when a semitruck rear-ended the vehicle at what he estimated was 35 to 45 mph.

As soon as a medical exam confirmed his injuries were minor, the two-time All-Star center began thinking about whether he still could join his team in time for Friday’s game. He knew he was fortunate, though, to have escaped at all.

“I’d say I had a 5 percent chance of making it out alive,” Towns said Monday before Minnesota’s 112-105 win over visiting Sacramento.

“You obviously want to make sure KAT the person is taken care of,” head coach Ryan Saunders said. “That’s definitely put ahead of KAT the basketball player.”

Assistant strength and conditioning coach Kurt Joseph was driving Thursday when he had to make a hard stop on Interstate 35W in Minneapolis to account for an accident in front of them. Towns said he recalled Joseph looking “stone-faced” while remarking that the semitruck in the rearview mirror was not slowing down.

“If I don’t have that seat belt,” Towns said, “I’m going right through the windshield.”

Towns declined an ambulance ride. He acknowledged downplaying the doctor’s advice upon departure from the hospital to take it easy, contacting the Timberwolves about a commercial itinerary that could get him to New York in time to play Friday against the Knicks.

He exhibited concussion-like symptoms, so per league protocol, Towns was held out of that game and again Saturday at Milwaukee. That ended his streak of 303 games started, longest to begin an NBA career since 1970-71.

On Monday night, Towns had 34 points and 21 rebounds in his return, helping the Wolves hold off the Kings.

Rookie Marvin Bagley III had 25 points and 11 rebounds and De’Aaron Fox scored 23 points for the Kings.

Rockets 119, Hawks 111: James Harden scored 28 points, ending his 32-game streak with at least 30, and host Houston overcame a personal-high eight 3-pointers from Atlanta rookie Trae Young, who had 36 points. Harden missed Saturday’s win over the Warriors with a neck injury.

Suns 124, Heat 121: Devin Booker had 20 points to lead seven Phoenix players in double figures, and the Suns snapped a club-record 17-game skid. Miami has lost six straight at home for the second time this season.

Nets 101, Spurs 85: D’Angelo Russell had 23 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, and host Brooklyn forced San Antonio into perhaps its worst offensive performance of the season. San Antonio was held to its lowest point total of the season, and the NBA’s leading 3-point shooting team at 40 percent was a season-worst 16.7 percent behind the arc in losing its third straight game.

Pistons 113, Pacers 109: Andre Drummond had 26 points and 16 rebounds, Blake Griffin had a triple-double (20 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) and host Detroit won for the seventh time in eight games.

Trail Blazers 123, Cavaliers 110: CJ McCollum scored 35 points and visiting Portland prevailed after nearly squandering a 23-point halftime lead. The Blazers needed a 14-0 run late in the game to put it away.

Bucks 117, Bulls 106: Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon scored 22 points apiece, and NBA-leading Milwaukee beat host Chicago with All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo sidelined with a sore right knee.

Grizzlies 110, Lakers 105: Mike Conley had 30 points, including key free throws in the final minute, Jonas Valanciunas finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds, and host Memphis put another dent in Los Angeles’ playoff hopes. LeBron James had 24 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists but made only 8 of 23 shots.

76ers 111, Pelicans 110: Tobias Harris scored 29 points, Ben Simmons had 14 points and 12 assists, and visiting Philadelphia narrowly held off New Orleans. Anthony Davis scored 18 points in 21 minutes, but was taken out of the game for good with 5:11 left in the third quarter.

Clippers 121, Mavericks 112: Montrezl Harrell scored a career-high 32 points and host Los Angeles defeated Dallas to move into seventh place in the Western Conference.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Karl-Anthony-Towns-returns-to-Wolves-after-13644828.php.

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