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March Mania

Towns erupts for 56 points, a team record, in key win over Hawks

Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) shoots the ball in the first half against the Atlanta Hawks at Target Center on Wednesday night. Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS -- Karl-Anthony Towns made history Wednesday night, scoring a franchise-record 56 points and leading the Minnesota Timberwolves to a bounce-back 126-114 win over the Atlanta Hawks at Target Center in Minneapolis.

Towns' career-high total topped the Minnesota mark previously held by Mo Williams (52 points). He posted the third-most points scored in a game this season while adding 15 rebounds and four assists.

Andrew Wiggins had 17 points, and Nemanja Bjelica finished with 14 for the Timberwolves, who on Monday were upset by the struggling Memphis Grizzlies.

Towns scored from the inside and outside. He hit 19 of 32 shots, including six 3-point attempts. He threw down a one-handed dunk midway through the third quarter, and Jeff Teague followed with a 3-pointer that pushed Minnesota's lead to 86-74.

The Timberwolves took a 98-88 lead into the fourth, and Towns opened the quarter with a 3-pointer as Minnesota tried to put away the Hawks.

However, Atlanta's Mike Muscala, who scored a career-high 24 points, hit a 3-pointer from the corner that trimmed the Timberwolves' lead to 110-104 with 4:31 to play.

Towns answered with five straight points to help Minnesota hold off Atlanta and maintain its playoff position. Towns had 17 points in the fourth quarter.

The Timberwolves began Wednesday clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Minnesota led the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets by 1 1/2 games. The Timberwolves and Nuggets will face off twice in the final two weeks of the season.

Minnesota remains without All-Star Jimmy Butler, who injured his knee in late February. Coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters Tuesday that Butler is improving rapidly but has not been cleared for contact. No timetable has been set for Butler's return.

Taurean Prince scored 21 points, and Isaiah Taylor finished with 20 points for the Hawks, who went 1-5 on their six-game road trip. Atlanta returns home to host the playoff-bound Philadelphia 76ers on Friday.