Chip Scoggins
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Karl-Anthony Towns didn't take enough shots in a Game 3 loss. He took the wrong kinds of shots in a Game 4 loss.

The Timberwolves won't survive their series against the Denver Nuggets if Towns doesn't find the right balance in his offense.

KAT's bad habits re-appeared in a series-leveling loss to the Nuggets on Sunday and now that Jamal Murray has joined the party for Denver, the Wolves need their second-best player to do likewise.

Game 4 reaffirmed Anthony Edwards' magnificence. One-man shows are fine for Broadway but not a winning formula in postseason basketball.

As valiantly as he tried, Edwards can't carry his team across the finish line against the defending champions while receiving little help.

The impact of role players will ebb and flow. A player on a supermax contract cannot be cast as a complementary piece. Towns holds a unique role for a player his size and contract tier, but he's not a role player. Big difference.

His performances in back-to-back home losses over the weekend brought reminders of past playoff failures. The most notable takeaway was his frustration.

Towns shared candid insight before the opening playoff series against the Phoenix Suns about the importance of this moment in his basketball career. He called it "probably one of the most important things in my career so far here in Minnesota."

That perception is being amplified. The Wolves suddenly find themselves in a best-of-three series entering Game 5. Defining Towns' tenure in Minnesota has never been an easy task for a multitude of reasons. And yet the magnitude of the situation right now is inescapable.

Towns took only seven shots in Game 3. Just one after halftime. That was baffling, especially since Towns has provided scoring barrages in spurts since returning from injury late in the season. His three-point shooting tends to come in waves.

Towns was the only Wolves player with a hot hand early in Game 3 before everything fell apart. He made all four of his three-point attempts in the first half. The rest of the team was 2 for 16.

Then the offense became stagnant, the game turned into a rout, and Towns' offense vanished.

Towns and the coaching staff overcorrected in Game 4. He equaled his shot total from the previous game in the first quarter alone and appeared restless in trying to establish himself offensively.

He drifted away from his strength – three-point shooting – in favor of post-ups, and that's just not his forte. Towns thrashes and flails when he looks to score from the post or tries to draw a foul by initiating contact.

Denver power forward Aaron Gordon frustrated Towns by holding his ground inside, causing the Wolves game plan to be counterproductive. Towns didn't get into a rhythm or find easy baskets and his emotions poured out with him yelling at the officials. He made only five of his 18 shot attempts and finished with 13 points.

"I think he rushed a lot of things," coach Chris Finch said. "I thought the physicality got him off his spot a little bit, and he rushed it."

Finch's staff has 48 hours to devise a plan that marries Towns' catch-and-shoot three-point shooting with Edwards' Superman routine. The Nuggets showed a blueprint in Games 3 and 4.

League MVP Nikola Jokić draws all eyes from the defense, which creates opportunities for Murray as the No. 2 option but also has allowed Gordon to punish the Wolves with his offense. Gordon made 16 of 19 shots for 40 points combined in the past two games. He made the same number of three-pointers (5) as Towns.

The path to winning the series requires far more from Towns.

"He's a superstar," Edwards said. "He gets paid to put the ball in the rim. I always tell him don't you ever stop shooting the ball because you missed five or six shots. In order for us to win, we need you to score."

The outcome of this series depends on it.