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Three Things to Know: Karl-Anthony Towns goes off, Joel Embiid goes out

Karl-Anthony Towns, John Collins

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Karl-Anthony Towns (32) shoots as Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins (20) defends during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 28, 2018, in Minneapolis. The Timberwolves defeated the Hawks 126-114. Towns had a career-high 56 points. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)


Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Karl-Anthony Towns drops 56, now owns Timberwolves record for most points in a single game. Before tonight if you had asked me “who owns the record for most points in a single Timberwolves game?” I would have guessed Kevin Garnett. When told I was wrong, I would have switched to Stephon Marbury. Would not have remembered it was Mo Williams, who did it just a few years ago.

Was. As in past tense — the record belongs to Karl-Anthony Towns, who dropped 56 on the hapless Hawks.

Towns and the Timberwolves had a “we’re not going to repeat that Memphis game” attitude in this one from the start, which helped. It also helped that for the first three quarters the Hawks did not double-team KAT to get the ball out of his hands, which allowed him to go to work and be efficient, including hitting 6-of-8 from three. Atlanta did double him in the fourth, and he showed off his improved passing skills out of the double, and was still was able to go on a personal 5-0 run in the final 4:30 to salt the game away.

The Timberwolves need more games like this from Towns secure a playoff seeding they want (and they need more defense, they won in spite of letting the Hawks put up at least 28 in every quarter and have an offensive rating of 110.6).

With this win and the Utah loss (keep reading, we’re getting to it) the Timberwolves move into the seven seed, half a game ahead of the Jazz (and the teams are tied in the loss s column), with the Clippers looming one game back.

2) Joel Embiid goes down with injury to his face… and now the waiting commences. It was supposed to be a simple dribble-handoff, but as Joel Embiid fumbled the ball and lean forward his face collided with the cutting Markelle Fultz and the result was not pretty.

While Embiid was tested and did not show signs of a concussion (at least yet, those can come on later), and reportedly the team took X-rays and they were negative. Both of which are very good signs. However, there could be a number of other issues, so was he telling the truth or trolling with this (now removed) Instagram post?

The Sixers hung on to beat the hapless Knicks without Embiid, but they will not keep this up. On the season, the Sixers get outscored by 3.9 points per 100 possessions when Embiid sits — that’s Knicks/Mavericks territory for the season. Philly will hold on to their playoff spot, but their dreams of home court advantage would fade fast without Embiid on the court.

3) Celtics’ Jaylen Brown’s drains game-winner to beat Jazz. Kyrie who? The Boston Celtics have won five in a row without Kyrie Irving, and that includes beating Portland, Oklahoma City, and you can now add the Utah Jazz to the list.

There was no Marcus Morris and Al Horford for the Celtics on Wednesday, instead it was Jayson Tatum and Aron Baynes and even Semi Ojeleye off the bench keeping them in it. However, in the fourth it was Terry Rozier who stepped up and who got Boston the chance with 11 points, then with the game on the line the ball moved and found Jaylen Brown for a clean look to get his 21st point and win it all. Bang.

The loss leaves Utah the eighth seed in the West, just one game up on the Clippers (who beat the tanktastic Suns Wednesday). The Jazz and Suns face off next Thursday (April 5), but the Jazz need to find wins before that (two of their next three are the Grizzlies and feisty Lakers, Utah needs those).