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Porzingis scores 25, Wizards cruise to win over Timberwolves


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kristaps Porzingis scored 25 points, including 12 in the third quarter as Washington took control, and the Wizards pulled away for a 132-114 win against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.

Rui Hachimura tied a season-high with 21 points and Daniel Gafford had 24 points and 12 rebounds off the bench for Washington. The Wizards were coming off a 144-102 loss at Boston to open their three-game road trip but have now won five of seven.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 26 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota, while D’Angelo Russell finished with 17 points and 11 assists. It was a disappointing loss for the Timberwolves after returning from a four-game road trip.

Minnesota is in seventh place in the Western Conference, almost out of time to climb above the cut and avoid the play-in tournament with only three regular-season games remaining.

The Timberwolves began the night with two more losses than both fifth-place Denver and sixth-place Utah, before the Nuggets hosted San Antonio and the Jazz hosted Memphis. If Minnesota doesn’t move up, it will host a play-in game next week against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Washington was eliminated from playoff contention last week, but it’s been out of the mix for a while with star Bradley Beal sidelined for the second half of the season because of a wrist injury. More recently, third-leading scorer Kyle Kuzma has been absent for nine straight games with a knee injury.

The Wizards are playing spoiler just fine, though. Two of their recent wins have come against likely playoff teams in Golden State and Dallas. They beat the Los Angeles Lakers in mid-March to start their run of improved play.

Porzingis is playing a big role since he came to Washington in a trade-deadline deal from Dallas.

Midway through the third quarter, neither team had led by more than six before the Wizards put together an 18-6 run keyed by Porzingis. The 7-foot-3 Latvian hit two 3-pointers, and had a dunk and two layups during the burst.

Minnesota cut the lead to four with a run at the end of the third. But then Ish Smith hit a buzzer-beating 3 from halfcourt to end the quarter and Washington dominated the fourth, eventually leading by as many as 23.

Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) works around Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura (8) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 5, 2022, in Minneapolis.

TIP-INS

Wizards: Washington didn’t shoot a free throw in the first quarter and had only five attempts in the first half. … The Wizards have won five in a row over Minnesota.

Timberwolves: Patrick Beverley missed his second straight game with right ankle soreness. … F Jaden McDaniels returned after missing nine games with a left ankle sprain. He was on a minutes restriction and went scoreless in 14 minutes. … Towns had 15 points in the first to go with four rebounds and three assists. … Minnesota was 14 of 41 from 3-point range.

UP NEXT

Wizards: Visit Atlanta on Wednesday. The Hawks have secured a spot in the play-in tournament with five straight wins.

Timberwolves: Host San Antonio on Thursday. The Spurs began the night with a two-game lead on the Los Angeles Lakers for 10th place and the final play-in slot in the West.

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More AP NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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