Minnesota Timberwolves: Player grades from loss to Milwaukee Bucks

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 23: Taj Gibson #67 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 23: Taj Gibson #67 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves put up a solid fight on the second night of a road back-to-back but ultimately fell short to the mighty Milwaukee Bucks.

The Minnesota Timberwolves were coming off of a fairly easy win in New York on Friday night despite Karl-Anthony Towns missing a game for the first time his career. But, as expected, the second night of a road-road back-to-back was a tough test, and the Wolves ultimately fell to the Bucks by a final score of 140-128.

Towns (concussion protocol) and Gorgui Dieng (personal reasons) each missed their second consecutive game, but the Wolves still gave the team with the league’s best record a run for their money.

The Wolves trailed by three points at the end of the first quarter as they missed a series of shots in the paint and allowed the Bucks to drain 3-point shots at will but used a late run to pull within striking distance.

The second quarter unfolded similarly, and the Wolves’ makeshift bench unit banded together to gain ground on the Bucks. Derrick Rose scored on the last possession of the first half to give the Wolves a 70-69 lead at halftime.

The third quarter was also a near-carbon copy, as the Wolves managed a two-point lead heading into the final frame.

Predictably, the home crowd got behind their squad in the fourth quarter and the Bucks rode a flurry of 3-pointers to build a double-digit lead midway through the stanza. Minnesota pulled back within nine points in the final four minutes, but that was as close as they got.

The Wolves enjoyed a strong first half from Anthony Tolliver (17 points on eight shot attempts) and solid performances from Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson and Andrew Wiggins, but they couldn’t quite account for Towns’ absence, especially on defense.

All that said, it was an impressively energetic performance from a team that was playing for the second time in 24 hours and going up against the league’s best.

B+. Andrew Wiggins had a solid all-around game, although there were still several “wait, what?” shot attempts and instances of passing up open shots in favor of tough, contested shots and failure to play through contact in the paint. But he did pull down nine rebounds and dish out four assists to only one turnover. Wiggins shot 7-of-15 from the field and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc but only attempted two free throws.. Guard/Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. ANDREW WIGGINS

B+. It’s hard to complain about 20 points and six rebounds in 25 minutes, although Taj Gibson shot an uncharacteristic 7-of-17 from the field. Gibson was benched in favor of matchups at a couple points throughout the game, but his lack of size at the center spot was exploited by the length of the Bucks more than a few times.. Power Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. TAJ GIBSON

Minnesota Timberwolves. DARIO SARIC. C. <a rel=. Power Forward

<a href=. Guard/Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. JOSH OKOGIE. A

D. <a href=. Point Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves. JEFF TEAGUE

DERRICK ROSE. A-. <a href=. Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves

LUOL DENG. A-. <a rel=. Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves

Point Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves. TYUS JONES. B+. Tyus Jones was very good, putting up nine points, nine assists, four steals and three rebounds. He controlled pace and make solid off-ball cuts while providing solid defense.

A-. <a href=. Power Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. KEITA BATES-DIOP

For as much as this win was a good ol’ fashioned moral victory, the season is getting short and the Wolves need to stop racking those up and start getting some real wins.

It is fair to assume that Karl-Anthony Towns would have a real chance of returning to the lineup at home on Monday night, but that remains to be seen.

Checking in on the Iowa Wolves. dark. Next

What’s Next?

The Timberwolves will host the Sacramento Kings at 7 p.m. CT on Monday as they look to even the season series against one of the primary contenders for a final playoff spot in the Western Conference.