The new-look Minnesota Timberwolves were a puzzle too difficult to solve Saturday, getting 24 points from Jordan McLaughlin and 23 from Malik Beasley to earn a resounding 142-115 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers and end a 13-game losing streak.
Three players were making their debut for a Timberwolves team that was busy in advance of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline. One player who did not suit up was D’Angelo Russell, who was one of the biggest acquisitions on the final trading day.
Russell was nursing a right quad contusion but did take the microphone to speak to the crowd before the game to promise better things ahead. Results came sooner than expected.
Karl-Anthony Towns scored 22 points with 13 rebounds and nine assists. Beasley made a career-best seven 3-pointers in his Wolves debut. McLaughlin’s point total was a career high. James Johnson added 15 points, also in his Minnesota debut. McLaughlin had 11 assists, and Beasley had 10 rebounds.
The Timberwolves set a franchise record with 26 three-pointers and shot 59.1 percent from long distance.
Kawhi Leonard scored 29 points and Paul George added 21 for the Clippers, who looked slow to react to Minnesota’s long-shooting strategy and did not have enough firepower to compete with it.
It was all Minnesota from the outset. The Timberwolves scored 40 points in the first quarter, 41 in the second and saw Allen Crabbe hit a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer to push the lead to 112-88. The 81 points over the first two quarters were a Timberwolves record for a half.
Towns had played 10 games since returning from a 15-game absence because of a knee injury, but the Wolves lost them all.
With his former tag-team partner Andrew Wiggins making his Golden State Warriors debut Saturday, Towns contributed to a victory for the first time since Nov. 27 at San Antonio.
Josh Okogie had 15 points for Minnesota, which won its first game since Jan. 9 against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell added 11 points each off the bench for Los Angeles, which had 24 assists, while the Wolves had 39. Minnesota shot 54.7 percent overall, while the Clippers shot 47.1 percent.