INDIANAPOLIS -- Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, back in the starting lineup after missing 15 games because of a sprained left knee, had a team-high 27 points Friday night, but Minnesota lost 116-114 to the Indiana Pacers.
Coach Ryan Saunders, who told reporters before the game that the Timberwolves would cap Towns' minutes and closely monitor his fatigue level, limited the two-time All-Star to 28 minutes on the floor.
Towns wound up 9-of-21 from the field with three 3-pointers.
"Having him out, we had to get through it," teammate Andrew Wiggins said. "I'm glad to have him back and I'm not surprised he played so well. That's what he does. He's a natural-born hooper."
Minnesota went 5-10 without Towns.
Towns made two free throws to tie the score Friday at 114. But he was just 4 of 12 from the field in the second half, missed all three of his fourth-quarter attempts and stepped out of bounds with 1:16 to play -- wiping out what would have been the go-ahead 3-pointer.
Towns' late turnover initiated a sequence of errors. With the score still tied, Wiggins missed a layup on a fast break with 55 seconds left and then stepped out of bounds for another turnover with 31 seconds to go, ultimately leading to the Pacers' go-ahead bucket.
The Timberwolves were without guard Allen Crabbe, whom they reacquired from Atlanta. Saunders said Crabbe was expected to join the team Saturday in Minneapolis.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.