The Minnesota Timberwolves seemingly had Zach Lavine trapped in a bad spot with 12 seconds to play in Wednesday night’s game in Chicago.

Karl-Anthony Towns and Malik Beasley were surrounding the Bulls’ all-star guard, who had just a few seconds to try to kick the ball out to a teammate before the shot clock expired.

Then, the whistle blew. A foul was called on Towns, his sixth of the game, after he lightly brushed LaVine’s arm. Towns had fouled out. So even when Ricky Rubio drew a foul in the final five seconds and hit three free-throws to tie the score, Minnesota did not have its best player available in overtime. The Wolves lost 133-126. On Thursday, the NBA’s last-two-minute report revealed the final call against Towns was incorrect. He should not have fouled out.

“My explanation was: The ref believed I had grabbed Zach LaVine’s arm. And he said after a quick conversation that he was also under the belief, I guess, that we wanted to foul. I think he thought he was doing me a favor by calling the foul — because he thought it was trying to stop the clock,” Towns said. “I was trying to explain to him with a seven-second differential we wouldn’t want to foul, especially with a guy with five (fouls).”

And that was where Towns left it. No grand gestures to show his disdain. No incessant complaining.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

“Right when I was told, I just went back to the huddle and just tried to help them find a way to play,” Towns said. “And try to help them find a way to win.”

That’s not how Towns would have handled the situation last season. He was known as a habitual complainer who vehemently disagreed with every call made against him, and spent time during the game voicing his displeasure.

No more.

With everything that’s happened to Towns this year, from losing his mother and many other family members to COVID-19, and battling the virus himself, the 25-year-old center has taken time to look in the mirror and take stock of what matters.

“In that reflection and maturing, the things that when you’re younger you think are important, it’s just not worth your time and energy. Especially with everything I’ve been through, I’ve been forced to really focus my energy on certain things because I just don’t have enough mental space, nor energy, to really give like a youthful person,” Towns said. “I gotta focus on what do I really exhaust my energy on. Refs are not one of those things anymore. I kind of just let it go. I just want to talk to them. If you see an initial reaction, obviously we all at home as fans and stuff may have the same reaction and what not, but I hope you guys realize that I’m not really trying to argue with refs anymore.”

What’s the point? He realized no amount of complaining or arguing is going to change anything. In one of the few games Towns played with Wolves teammate D’Angelo Russell, he caught Russell arguing with the officials.

“What has that done?” Towns asked Russell.

“I gotta tell him,” Russell told Towns.

“D-Lo, we’re going to the locker room. The game’s over. You can’t change the call,” Towns said. “We ain’t all gonna come out the locker room and be like, ‘Alright, cool, we’re going to replay that play and give you another try.’ That (stuff) has never happened in the NBA in the last six years I’ve been in here and … it’s not worth wasting your time. A call’s made. It’s not going to get overturned. It’s not going to get changed.”

Of course, the coaching challenge was added in recent years, but Towns said you “might as well let the play go” and focus your attention elsewhere.

“Just focus on the game at hand and trying to win,” Towns said, “instead of trying to win an argument.”

Towns said he’s focused on the Wolves. And if he’s constantly bickering with officials, how will that look to young players like Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels?

“We’re the examples, we’re the leaders, me and D-Lo,” Towns said.

Much like Towns’ leader his rookie season was Kevin Garnett. One of the things Garnett told him was that with officiating, you just have to get a feel for how the game is being called.

“See how they’re calling the game and see kind of what they’re letting go a little bit or what’s being relaxed on a little bit and try to play the game,” Towns said. “You want to play the game with the officials and you want to play their game. You just want to fit into the playground and just do what you can in that playground to help your teammates.”