MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Isaiah Thomas scored 29 points and the Boston Celtics rallied from 13 points down in the fourth quarter to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 99-93 on Monday night.
Al Horford added 20 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Celtics, who trailed 81-68 after three. Boston opened the fourth on a 17-0 run to take the lead and held on down the stretch for its second straight win.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 27 points and 18 rebounds for the Timberwolves. Gorgui Dieng added 20 points and 10 rebounds, but Andrew Wiggins was just 5 for 18 and Minnesota scored three points in the first 9 minutes of the fourth.
Terry Rozier added 12 points off the bench and keyed the Celtics’ surge in the first 6 minutes of the fourth.
The Timberwolves have normally reserved their meltdowns this season for the third quarter, when they have the NBA’s worst point differential. But they won that period 29-26 on Monday night, just the second time this season they have outscored their opponent in the third.
Jonas Jerebko and Rozier opened the fourth with 3-pointers, and Rozier added another long ball and a steal and dunk to push the Celtics in front.
Towns was the only player who scored for the Wolves in the first 11 minutes of the fourth quarter, converting a three-point play with 5:18 to go for their first bucket and hitting a 3-pointer with 2:38 remaining.
Boston outscored Minnesota 31-12 in the fourth as Minnesota shot 5 for 25.
The Celtics have started off a little slower than expected, but that is due in large part to starters Jae Crowder and Horford missing big chunks of time with injuries. Crowder sat out eight games with a sprained left ankle and Horford was absent for nine with a concussion. Both returned against Detroit on Saturday and are still working their way into game shape.
One of the biggest guys on the court and the smallest got into it in the third quarter when the 6-foot-11, 240-pound Dieng leveled the 5-9, 185-pound Thomas with a screen. Dieng was called for an offensive foul because he was moving while he set the screen, and Thomas took exception. The All-Star guard got up and shoved Dieng, and the two exchanged words while being separated by teammates.
Celtics: Boston overcame a 51-39 deficit on the glass despite attempting 11 fewer free throws. … Boston was issued a rare delay of game warning coming out of a timeout late in the third quarter. … Avery Bradley scored 13 points.
Timberwolves: Minnesota missed eight free throws and was 4 for 23 on 3-pointers. … Towns has blocked a shot in 20 straight games. … F Brandon Rush was active after missing the previous seven games with a sore big toe on his right foot. He played 2 minutes in the fourth quarter.
Celtics: Boston wraps up a three-game road trip in Brooklyn on Wednesday night.
Timberwolves: Minnesota starts a three-game trip with a game at New Orleans on Wednesday night in which Towns will face fellow Kentucky big man Anthony Davis.