Minnesota Timberwolves: Player grades from loss to Nuggets

DENVER, CO - MARCH 12: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Paul Millsap #4 of the Denver Nuggets. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 12: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Paul Millsap #4 of the Denver Nuggets. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images) /

The short-handed Minnesota Timberwolves were beat with relative ease by the mighty Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night in the Mile High City.

133. 73. Final. 107. 86

On Tuesday night in Denver, the Minnesota Timberwolves were without Jeff Teague, Derrick Rose, and Andrew Wiggins while Robert Covington remained sidelined.

As it turns out, missing four of your top six rotation players matters. A lot. Especially when you’re facing one of the best three or four teams in the NBA.

Karl-Anthony Towns once again led the team, putting up 34 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks, and three assists. Tyus Jones was the second-leading scorer on the team with 16 points and was the only other starter to make it to double-figures.

Put simply, the Nuggets are a great team, and play together beautifully. The excellence of Nikola Jokic was on full display, as the All-Star big man had 18 points, eight rebounds and seven assists while effectively running the point in Denver’s offense.

The Wolves weren’t really ran off the floor until the fourth quarter as Towns was dominant early, getting Jokic into fairly quick foul trouble. It’s simply too much to ask for Towns to lift a starting lineup with Josh Okogie (zero points), Keita Bates-Diop (nine points) and Dario Saric (nine points) not carrying their weight offensively.

While Saric is almost surely the team’s starting power forward next year, none of the rest of the starting lineup from Tuesday will be intact in those roles come October.

That said, Towns continues to be a monster, and it would be a travesty if he didn’t make an All–NBA squad.

A. Towns was dominant once again in his return from a one-game absence due to his knee injury scare on Saturday. The All-Star big man had 34 points (14-25 FG, 2-6 3P, 4-4 FT), 10 rebounds, three blocks, and three assists in 32 minutes. He was only called for three personal fouls all game and got a few minutes of extra rest at the end of the game once the Nuggets put things out of reach.. Center. Minnesota Timberwolves. KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS

Stepping into the starting lineup with Jeff Teague absent once again, Tyus Jones had a solid game, putting up 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting. He only had three assists to go along with two rebounds and two steals, but also only turned the ball over once in 27 minutes.. Point Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves. TYUS JONES. B+

B. Taj Gibson had a fairly nondescript night, tallying eight points and four rebounds in 21 minutes. Ryan Saunders gave heavier minutes to Cameron Reynolds and C.J. Williams and chose to slide Bates-Diop to the 4, as both Dario Saric (19 minutes) and Gibson (21 minutes) had light workloads.. Power Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. TAJ GIBSON

C+. Outside of a quick, five-point flurry coming out of halftime in the third quarter, Saric was quiet in his 19 minutes. He shot 4-of-7 from the floor and had four rebounds, two steals, and an assist. Once again, the Wolves simply need to find a better way to run the offense through both Saric and Towns — especially with playmakers like Teague and Rose sidelined.. Power Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. DARIO SARIC

JOSH OKOGIE. D. Okogie’s rough stretch of games continued with an 0-for-4 night from the floor in 23 minutes. He only had two rebounds, one assist, and one steal in 23 minutes.. Guard/Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves

Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. ANTHONY TOLLIVER. D. Anthony Tolliver played 16 minutes and went scoreless, missing all three of his shot attempts including two tries from beyond the arc. He did have four assists but just one rebound and barely made an impact in this one.

KEITA BATES-DIOP. C+. Keita Bates-Diop had his least impressive game of his now three career starts, scoring 11 points on 3-of-11 shooting, although he did pitch in five rebounds and four assists in 33 minutes. He continues to show impressive basketball I.Q. in regards to spacing, timing, etc., but struggled from the field and forced a few shots.. Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves

The rest of the players

Cameron Reynolds played 25 minutes and attempted all seven of his field goals from beyond the arc, knocking down four of them. He also pitched in two assists, two steals, and a rebound and was solid for the most part.

Jerryd Bayless was forced into action as the backup point guard and had a rough go of it, shooting 2-of-8 in 22 minutes and only dishing out two assists.

Two-way player C.J. Williams played a surprising 18 minutes and was productive, finishing with 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting, four assists, and two steals.

Gorgui Dieng played four minutes in garbage time and had four points and two rebounds.

Next. Remaining silver linings to Wolves' season.... dark

What’s Next?

The Timberwolves continue their road trip in Utah on Thursday night. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. CT.