Kyrie Irving returned from a one-game absence to help Boston fend off Minnesota, finishing with 23 points in a 117-109 victory over the Timberwolves Thursday that clinched a spot in the playoffs for the Celtics.
Karl-Anthony Towns recorded yet another double-double in what has become a common occurrence for the first-time All-Star, and Minnesota got a much better defensive effort in the second half to pull away for a second straight lopsided win.
Before his team faced the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night, Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau stressed the Timberwolves couldn't replace injured star Jimmy Butler with a single player. To overcome his absence, they would need a collective effort.
Taj Gibson scored a season-high 28 points and Jimmy Butler added 24, providing the Timberwolves with the production and energy for a 119-111 comeback victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.