NBA playoffs: Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves finally grab win over Mavericks to avoid sweep

Towns pushed Minnesota to a 105-100 win over the Mavs on Tuesday night in Dallas

There won’t be a pair of sweeps in the conference finals this postseason after all.

After struggling to get past Luka Dončić and the Dallas Mavericks early in the series, the Minnesota Timberwolves are finally on the board. The Timberwolves surged ahead in the fourth quarter behind a huge second half from Karl-Anthony Towns to grab a 105-100 win in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals at the American Airlines Center on Tuesday night.

The win marks the Timberwolves’ first of the series, and forces a Game 5 on Thursday night back in Minneapolis. The Mavericks still hold a 3-1 lead in the series, however, and they are just a win away from their first NBA Finals trip in 13 years. The Timberwolves, who have never been to the Finals, have to win three straight to make history as the first NBA team to ever rally from a 3-0 series deficit.

The Timberwolves jumped out early over the Mavericks on Tuesday night, and shut down just about everyone but Dončić in the first 12 minutes. The Mavericks shot just 6-of-21 from the field to open the game, and they gave up a big 14-2 burst to the Timberwolves.

The Mavericks, though, came alive before halftime. They entered the locker room tied 47-47 after using several big runs to get right back in the game. The Mavericks had 20 points off turnovers in the first half, too.

After managing just five points in the first half, Towns started playing much better than he did on Sunday — where he was just 5-of-18 from the field and 0-of-8 from behind the arc. He opened the game shooting 6-of-7 from the field and he drilled a 3-pointer early in the third to cap an 8-0 run and put the Timberwolves up again in the third quarter. But Towns picked up his fifth foul of the night just after the midway point of the quarter.

Timberwolves coach Chris Finch picked up a technical after Towns’ fifth foul, too. That sent Towns to the bench. Despite losing him early in the period, the Timberwolves still took a five-point lead into the fourth quarter.

The Mavericks hung right with the Timberwolves early in the fourth, and closed the gap to a one-possession game almost immediately thanks in part to a wild and-one from Dončić to Derrick Jones Jr. — who easily threw it down over Rudy Gobert.

The Timberwolves finally started to pull away just after the midway point of the fourth quarter, however, after Towns drilled back-to-back 3-pointers. That put Minnesota up by five at the time, and sparked an 11-2 run that Towns added to with his fourth 3-pointer of the night a few minutes later. But with the Timberwolves up by eight, Towns picked up his sixth foul of the night and was forced out of the game early.

Despite a quick 5-0 burst from the Mavericks to cut it back to a single possession almost instantly with Towns on the bench, Edwards answered with a bucket of his own to keep them at bay. That allowed the Timberwolves to hold on to grab the five-point win and force another game in the series. A late desperation 3-point heave from Dončić, which left Edwards stunned behind him, didn't make the difference in the final seconds.

Edwards led the Timberwolves with a near-triple-double in the win. He had 29 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Towns finished with 25 points and five rebounds while shooting 9-of-13 from the field. He went 4-of-5 from behind the arc, too. All five Timberwolves starters hit double figures, and they shot nearly 53% from the field as a unit.

Dončić finished with another triple-double for the Mavericks. He had 28 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in the loss, though he shot 7 of 21 from the field. Kyrie Irving added 16 points and four assists after he went just 1-of-6 from behind the arc. Irving was a perfect 14-0 in closeout games in his career entering Tuesday's game. The Mavericks did get Maxi Kleber back on Tuesday night after he missed more than three weeks with a shoulder injury. He played 13 minutes off the bench. Dereck Lively, however, was ruled out with a neck injury he sustained in Game 3. It's unclear when he'll be able to return.

Game 5 of the series is set for Thursday night in Minneapolis. Though it will take a historic comeback in order to keep their postseason alive and set up a battle with the Boston Celtics, the Timberwolves have now taken the first step.