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Knight guides Bucks past Wolves down stretch

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MINNEAPOLIS — Brandon Knight was quiet for three quarters Wednesday night at Target Center. The Milwaukee Bucks guard scored just two points to that point as his team struggled to break open the game.

Then came the fourth quarter, and Knight took over.

The third-year guard scored 13 of his 15 points in the final 6:43 of the game — going 8-for-8 from the free-throw line — as Milwaukee ran away with a 103-86 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Bucks (9-7) outscored the Timberwolves 31-16 in the final quarter.

“Our team toughed it out,” Knight said. “Defensively, we were able to get stops and really put pressure on them and force some turnovers. That was what I was most proud of.”

Seven Bucks players scored in double figures. Knight and center Larry Sanders each finished with 15, and forward Giannis Antetokounmpo had 13. Sanders also chipped in a season-high five blocks and grabbed seven rebounds, while Antetokounmpo had a team-best eight boards.

Sanders did most of his damage in the first quarter, pacing the Bucks with eight early points. He added two fourth-quarter dunks to help jumpstart Milwaukee’s offense late in the game.

“I’m just trying to be that spark, stay active, get my energy up, find my touch around the basket,” Sanders said.

Veteran forward Corey Brewer led Minnesota (3-10) with 19 points and added six rebounds. Rookie guard Andrew Wiggins had 14 points and eight rebounds, while guards Shabazz Muhammad (13) and Zach LaVine (12) and second-year forward Anthony Bennett (12) also scored in double figures for the short-handed Timberwolves.

In the first regular-season meeting between the top two picks in this year’s draft — Minnesota’s Wiggins and Milwaukee forward Jabari Parker — Parker and the Bucks came out on top. Parker scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

Neither team led by more than nine points until 4:05 remained in the fourth quarter. The Bucks pulled away thanks to a 19-3 run over the final seven minutes.

The 16 fourth-quarter points were a season low for the Timberwolves.

“We beat ourselves a lot today,” Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. “I’m not going to fault our guys. I thought we did go out and compete for some stretches. We’ve got to play hard, but we’ve also got to play smart.”

Milwaukee took an 8-0 lead just 1:52 into the game. Minnesota cut its deficit to 26-24 at the end of the opening quarter and took its first lead of the game, 33-32, on a 3-pointer from forward Chase Budinger early in the second.

The Bucks held a 51-47 lead at halftime, but Minnesota battled back after the break as the teams briefly traded leads.

Minnesota dominated the free-throw department, shooting 34 free throws to Milwaukee’s 19. However, the Timberwolves struggled at the line, making just 21, while the Bucks converted all but one of their attempts.

The Timberwolves were down to just one healthy point guard Wednesday as Mo Williams was sidelined due to illness and Ricky Rubio remains out with a sprained ankle. That meant LaVine got the start, the fifth of his brief NBA career. LaVine handled 37 minutes of playing time just fine, dishing out four assists and committing three turnovers.

NOTES: Timberwolves PG Mo Williams missed Wednesday’s game due to strep throat and pink eye. … Wednesday marked the first time in NBA history that four teenagers played in a game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Minnesota used 19-year-olds LaVine and F Andrew Wiggins, while 19-year-old forwards Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker played for Milwaukee. … Timberwolves players wore pink shoelaces to honor Lula Hall, the mother of Minnesota F Thaddeus Young. Hall died of breast cancer Nov. 13. … Minnesota Lynx PG Lindsay Whalen was honored during the second quarter. Whalen won a gold medal at the 2014 FIBA World Championship with Team USA.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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