NEW YORK – In Friday's loss at Chicago, Taurean Prince had a moment he would have liked to redo: a turnover at the end of the first overtime when the Timberwolves, who were ahead by two, could have almost run out the clock.
He said that moment was "on my mind, but not in a bad way" before Monday night's 140-134 Wolves victory over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
"I was more so mad at myself," Prince said. "I hadn't made a mistake like that in a few years. But, it happens to the best of us. I knew I was going to bounce back. How? I wasn't sure. But the timing was perfect."
So was Prince anytime he shot a three Monday as he helped the bleeding Wolves cauterize their wounds with a victory that was among their most needed of the season.
Without the injured Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns, their two best offensive players, the Wolves had one of their best offensive nights of the season. While both are out, the Wolves need players to punch above their averages. Prince did that in as splashy a way as possible with 35 points. He was 12-for-13 from the field and 8-for-8 from three-point range, where he set a career high for made threes in a game.
"It was a movie. Seriously," Prince said. "Guys were telling me how do you feel? It was a blur, to be honest. Just go out, play hard, do what you work on every day."
Prince helped seal the game with a late three that put the Wolves up 135-131 with 1 minute, 48 seconds left. Then he laid in a pass from Mike Conley (24 points, 11 assists) for a five-point lead with 10.4 seconds remaining.
"He was hot, man," Conley said of Prince. "We were trying to find him as much as possible. He made play after play. Big-time performer. Just happy he had it tonight when we needed him. He came through."
An offensive rebound from Kyle Anderson made that final layup possible and prevented the Knicks from getting a chance to tie the score. That capped one of the most improbable and most entertaining victories of the Wolves' season.
"Super proud of the guys. It's been a hard week in a lot of different ways," coach Chris Finch said. "Lot of adversity and I thought we came out, set the tone."
They could not have done that better than by hitting their first 10 shots, an NBA best to open a game this season, and shot a blistering 71% in the first half. That wasn't enough to make Monday a laugher. Julius Randle laughed right back with a career-high 57 points, and the Knicks led 129-124 with under five minutes to play. Then it was all Wolves from there, as they were the ones forcing the other team into backbreaking mistakes for a change.
Conley hit three free throws after he was fouled behind the arc to give the Wolves the lead. Then he found Prince for a three. Jaden McDaniels followed that with a turnover of Randle and two free throws of his own after Randle fouled him trying to get the loose ball.
"It came together tonight on a night that we didn't have everybody," Conley said. "Our best players are out and we're able to find a way. You build that kind of confidence and it sticks with you and lets us know we can go and beat everybody."
Almost everybody contributed to the victory. Jaylen Nowell returned from injury for 14 points. Naz Reid pitched in 12 while McDaniels had 18. Without Edwards and Towns, the Wolves played team basketball as soundly as they have all year. They trusted in their ball movement and trusted each other to knock down open shots.
"We got shooters, baby," said center Rudy Gobert, who had 16 points and seven rebounds. "... We got weapons, man. When the ball moves, it's tough to guard us."