Beasley scores 24 as Timberwolves beat Bulls

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Malik Beasley scored 24 points and D’Angelo Russell added 19 for the Minnesota Timberwolves in a 115-108 victory against the Chicago Bulls yesterday.

Naz Reid had his second straight double-double for Minnesota with 16 points and 11 rebounds, helping the Timberwolves to their second consecutive win. It’s the first time they’ve won both games of a back-to-back this season, following Tuesday’s 139-134 victory in New Orleans.

“It feels good,” Reid said. “We’re tired of losing. Plain and simple. We’re a team that could win. We go out there and put it all together, things like this will happen.”

Playing without leading scorer Zach LaVine, Chicago welcomed back Lauri Markkanen but couldn’t follow up Monday’s win against Dallas. Coby White led the Bulls with 26 points off the bench.

“I don’t care who’s coming back. I don’t care who’s been out, who’s working on a minutes restriction,” coach Jim Boylen said. “I didn’t think we were tough enough tonight, and I didn’t like it.”

Chicago built a 13-point lead in the first half before Minnesota’s offence got on track in the second half. The Wolves hit five of their first six 3-pointers after halftime to take a 72-64 lead.

“I thought we answered the call in terms of upping our energy and not having a kind of feel-out process like we had to begin the game,” Minnesota coach Ryan Saunders said.

“We challenged our guys in the third quarter, and credits to them. They were aggressive. They moved the basketball. I thought we got great shots to start the half and forced them to call timeout.”

The Wolves’ season has developed into a continual experiment after the team traded for Beasley, Russell, Juancho Hernangomez and James Johnson at the deadline, and lost Karl-Anthony Towns to a left wrist injury.

The offence has been the building block, with Minnesota showing flashes.

The Wolves entered the day averaging 121.6 points per game since the trades, the third-highest total in the NBA during that span. They are 4-7 in that stretch, with wins against the Los Angeles Clippers and at Miami.

“Whenever you pick up wins, you feel better about yourself,” Saunders said. “It’s validation in a lot of ways that you’re doing the right thing. We don’t want to harp on any one win, but that Miami win was big for this group.”

Minnesota had lost 18 of 19 games before beating the Heat.

Markkanen returned after missing 15 games with a right pelvis stress reaction. He last played January 22 against Minnesota. Boylen said Markkanen would be limited to 18-20 minutes. He ended up with 13 points in 21 minutes.

“I felt pretty good,” Markkanen said. “Of course, your body’s not been running out there in six weeks, it’s not normal. It wasn’t bad. Especially the first half, I felt really good.”

Wendell Carter Jr played his third game back from injury and had six points and nine rebounds in 25 minutes. Otto Porter, who missed 51 games with a left foot fracture, played his second game back and was one-of-eight shooting in 18 minutes. Boylen had said Carter and Porter were still on a minutes restriction as well.