MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Jaylen Brown scored 35 points, Jayson Tatum added 22 as the Boston Celtics held on to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-102 on Wednesday night.
Malcolm Brogdon added 12 points off the bench for Boston, which overcame a tough shooting night to win for the third time in four games.
The Celtics shot 40.5% from the field and were 12 of 40 (30%) from 3-point territory. They remained a game ahead of Philadelphia for second in the Eastern Conference and closed within 2 1/2 games of Milwaukee for first.
Anthony Edwards had 28 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota, which has lost three of four. The Timberwolves started the day seventh in the West, one game ahead of Oklahoma City, Dallas and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Kyle Anderson scored 15 for Minnesota and Naz Reid added 15 off the bench.
Trailing 101-99, Edwards missed a 3 with 32.2 seconds left that would have given the Timberwolves their first lead since the first quarter. Grant Williams collected an offensive rebound for Boston and won a jump ball after being tied up.
Tatum finished with a pair of free throws to put the game away. Edwards and Anderson were then ejected with 1.7 seconds left after arguing with officials.
It was a defensive struggle in the first half between two teams that started the day in the top-10 in defensive rating in the league. The Celtics shot 32.6% in the first half and the Timberwolves finished at 36.4%.
The matchup turned testy at times. Brown was assessed a technical foul in the first half after an altercation with Minnesota’s Rudy Gobert. Brown, who is wearing a mask after sustaining a facial fracture, seemed to take offense after getting hit with an elbow from Gobert.
Gobert was given a Flagrant I foul in the second half after he challenged a dunk from Tatum. Gobert hit Tatum with his hands as he elevated and Tatum fell hard to the court. Officials raised the foul to flagrant after a review. Moments earlier, Gobert also got a technical foul for hanging on the rim after a dunk.
TOWNS GETTING CLOSER
The Wolves released an injury update on Karl-Anthony Towns on Wednesday and said the big man is expected to return “in the coming weeks” from his right calf strain. Towns, out since Nov. 28, has started basketball activities.
He was averaging 20.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists in 21 games before the injury.
Celtics: Coach Joe Mazzulla said Robert Williams, who missed his sixth straight game with a left hamstring strain, could be back “in the next week or so.” … Tatum was 0 for 8 on 3s but 14 of 16 from the free-throw line. … Boston led by as many as 14 in the third.
Timberwolves: Austin Rivers missed his third straight game with back spasms. Jaylen Nowell has missed eight games with left knee tendinopathy. … Edwards was 7 of 11 shooting in the first half while the rest of the team was 9 of 33.
Celtics: Play at Portland on Friday.
Timberwolves: Play at Chicago on Friday.