The pressure on a No. 1 overall pick and three-time All-Star should be suffocating, especially in the NBA playoffs. The world expects them to come up big when things matter most, and if they don’t, their performance was a failure. It’s that simple.
And that was the case for Karl-Anthony Towns in Game 3 of the Minnesota Timberwolves‘ first-round series with the Memphis Grizzlies. He didn’t play like the franchise player he’s supposed to be, and basketball legend Charles Barkley let him know it.
Barkley had some strong criticism for the 26-year-old big man following Minnesota’s disappointing loss.
Charles Barkley blasted Karl-Anthony Towns following the Timberwolves’ disappointing loss
After splitting the first two games in Memphis, it looked like the Timberwolves were going to take a 2-1 lead over the Grizzlies in Game 3.
They jumped out to a 26-point lead in the first half before eventually allowing Memphis to go on a 15-0 run and cut the score to 51-44 at halftime. The Timberwolves then claimed a 25-point lead in the third quarter, but the Grizzlies went on another run, this time 21-0, to eventually tie it 83-83. Ja Morant and company then won the playoff thriller 104-95.
Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell played well for Minnesota, combining for 41 points. But the team’s franchise player, Karl-Anthony Towns, was almost non-existent. The Kentucky product, who dropped 60 points in a game earlier this season, had just eight points on just three-of-four shooting, and he pulled down five rebounds. He also committed five fouls.
When asked about his four shot attempts after the game, Towns said, “next question.”
“Go home, drink some wine and move on to the next day. I mean that’s really simple. Just decompress,” he also said during his post-game press conference, per the Commercial Appeal. “Just go home and remember what got us here. Remember what got me here. … It’s our support system, our work and each other, and we just got to lean on that.”
Towns’ disappointing performance certainly bothered Charles Barkley, but so did his nonchalant answers.
“This is like two times in the last week in playoff situations you get more fouls than points and rebounds, and your answer is, ‘Next question,’ or ‘I’m just gonna drink me some wine,’” Barkley said on TNT, likely referring to Towns’ NBA play-in performance in which he had just 11 points and fouled out. “No, no, no. That’s bogus, man. That’s total BS. Dude, you were the No. 1 pick in the draft; you’re supposed to be a franchise player; you gotta quit committing stupid fouls. You gotta play better, man.”
Whether you’re a Towns fan or just love the NBA, you likely know he has to play better. Eight points and five fouls won’t cut it.
The Timberwolves can beat the Grizzlies, but they have a lot of work to do
The Timberwolves showed they can win this series. At times, their defensive intensity was excellent, forcing the Grizzlies into nine first-half turnovers and a 36.6% shooting percentage. However, allowing them to go on multiple massive runs is pathetic, and it falls back on coaching. Chris Finch should have made better in-game adjustments for his young team.
Towns, though, also has to be more agressive. In Minnesota’s Game 1 victory, he had 29 points and 13 rebounds, and he shot 61.1% from the field. He needs to be that dominant force for his team to have a chance.
This series is far from over, but the Timberwolves have a lot of work to do. In Barkley’s words, they “gotta play better.”
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference