Not unlike a pro wrestling tag team, Karl-Anthony Towns and Derrick Rose took turns savaging the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.
Towns shouldered the load for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first half, pouring in 28 points on 14 shots.
But as the budding young star cooled off in the second, scoring just two points while misfiring on 7 of 8 shots, Rose was more than ready to pick up the slack.
Continuing his improbable comeback season, the revitalized former Kia MVP erupted for 29 of his 31 points over the final 24 minutes, capped by his clutch jumper with 0.6 seconds remaining to give the Timberwolves a 116-114 victory.
With the nation’s attention fixed firmly on the NFL’s conference championship games, the shot didn’t get nearly as much attention as some of his previous heroics, including his 50-spot against the Utah Jazz on Oct. 31.
But it was more indication, after a recent ankle sprain cost him eight games, that Rose isn’t ready to let his remarkable ride end just yet.
Sunday marked the 19th time in 36 games he’s scored 20 points or more this season, a consistent source of production for a team in need of any kind of steadiness it can get during what has been an exceptionally turbulent season.
And while his status as a high-flying superstar has long since expired, the instinct to take charge remains fully intact. Rather than run a pick-and-roll with Towns on the final play, as drawn up by interim head coach Ryan Saunders, Rose saw a matchup with Suns rookie Mikal Bridges and chose to attack.
“It was a rook sticking me, right?” he said, as reported by The Athletic. “A rookie. C’mon, I gotta go at him in that situation.”
In the old days, Rose almost certainly would have looked to attack the rim. But now, with injuries having reduced his athletic ability to nil, he instead went to the step-back jumper.
Another moment to remember in what has already been an unforgettable season.
“Like I always say, I believe in myself, and I work on this all the time,” Rose said. “I didn’t want to force anything.”
Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen has made quite the name for himself as a shot blocker of highlight-reel caliber. But Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner proved he knows how to protect the rim in impressive fashion as well. Witness his absolute suffocation of Marvin Williams’ ill-advised dunk attempt:
Quite the night for Pat Beverley:
No player 6’1″ or shorter has matched @patbev21’s line tonight 𝐢𝐧 𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝟐𝟓 𝐬𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐬.
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) January 21, 2019
Guess LA Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell is a big tennis fan:
You can always count on @MONSTATREZZ to have some 🔥 kicks, but this pair he wore for the first half tonight might be my favorite. A nod to @serenawilliams who is competing in the @AustralianOpen tomorrow. (Cc: @TennisChannel) pic.twitter.com/aiIh3IVXSO
— Jaime Maggio (@jaimemaggio) January 21, 2019
Spurs guard Patty Mills got an early start on MLK Day with his heartfelt pregame address:
— NBA (@NBA) January 21, 2019