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In last season's playoffs, Timberwolves star big man Karl-Anthony Towns often was left alone on a defensive island against league MVP Nikola Jokic in a first-round series Denver won in five games.

In Saturday's Game 1 victory over Phoenix at Target Center, Towns often was left alone to defend superstar Kevin Durant in a matchup of power forwards. Durant got his 31 points while teammates Devin Booker, Bradley Beal and Grayson Allen were limited to a combined 11-for-29 shooting.

"It's fun when you get to compete against the best of the best," Towns said after practice Monday. "Last year with Jokic, it was really fun to guard, possibly, the three-time MVP and a guy I have tremendous respect for. This year, it's the same thing. I'll take whatever challenge is needed for us to win. If I've got to guard the best player, I'll do whatever it takes. I've never backed down from a challenge, and I'll continue to do that every single night for the rest of my career."

Durant went 11-for-17 and 2-for-2 on threes. He also had seven rebounds and five turnovers while Towns mostly defended him.

Wolves coach Chris Finch called Towns' afternoon outstanding with a 19-point, seven-rebound, four-assist performance at both ends. He was 8-for-8 from the free-throw line, too.

"I thought he played clean, efficient, battled with everything," Finch said. "Looking back, a lot of those shots KD hit, they were superhuman. You just have to compete your best, and KAT has done that all year. Part of the secret to our success is KAT's willingness to sacrifice both ends of the floor and still make major impact: scoring, goal to the free-throw line, played with intelligence. It was outstanding. Going to need more of it."

After practice Monday at Target Center, Durant lamented those six shots he did miss, specifying a couple of pullup shots and some layups he missed while young Wolves star Anthony Edwards' 18-point third quarter was the difference.

"Those shots I missed are huge for our team," Durant said. "They need me to knock those down at times, be more focused with the ball in my hands, more fundamental when the ball goes up. I'm expecting to make every shot I take. Just be better than that."

Towns was asked if Durant's 6-11 height and long wingspan make him such a difficult cover.

"His IQ," Towns said. "He has seen a lot of basketball at all levels, and he has guarded 1 through 5 [point guard through center] in his career. It's about going against his IQ, just trying to do the best I can to counteract what he's doing against me defensively and the same thing when he's on offense and I'm on defense."

Allen, Anderson uncertain

Phoenix coach Frank Vogel on Monday called Allen questionable for Game 2 after he played 25 minutes and left Saturday's game in the third quarter because of an ankle injury.

"He did some light movement, but not a full participant in practice," Vogel said. "He has been getting treatment nonstop so hopefully the extra day between games should help."

Finch called Kyle Anderson good on Monday. Anderson left after playing less than five minutes on Saturday because of a hip pointer.

"He went through practice, but we'll see," Finch said. "See how it keeps responding."

Nine men out

Finch used nine players, including Anderson and Monte Morris, on Saturday until the outcome wasn't in doubt. If Anderson can't play, Finch said he has options.

"We're lucky to have 10 guys we feel could play rotation minutes," said Finch, apparently including Jordan McLaughlin and T.J. Warren as well. "Who those guys are at any given moment may change. We leave it open, but we know we've got depth to go either direction as we want to."