Minnesota Timberwolves: Player grades from loss to Thunder

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 7 : Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves handles the ball during the game against Steven Adams #12 of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 7 : Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves handles the ball during the game against Steven Adams #12 of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images) /

On Sunday afternoon, the Minnesota Timberwolves lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the first time this season, this time in a high-scoring affair.

132. 149. Final. 126. 86

The Minnesota Timberwolves had defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in their first three matchups this year, with two of their wins coming on the road in OKC including in Ryan Saunders’ first game as interim head coach back in January.

With the regular season ending this week, the Thunder are battling for playoff positioning and sat in the No. 7 spot in the Western Conference heading into play on Sunday.

The Wolves were even more short-handed than they’d been over the past month-plus as backup point guard Jerryd Bayless was out due to injury.

Oklahoma City opened the game with a 20-6 lead, and it sure looked as if it was about to be a blowout at the hands of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and company. But the Wolves showed fight after a couple of early timeouts from Saunders and managed to pull within seven by the end of the opening frame.

The Wolves bench played a great second quarter and Minnesota actually took a lead late in the first half before trailing by two at halftime.

Minnesota built a multiple possession lead midway through the third quarter and had all the momentum before a questionable flagrant foul call on two-way player Jared Terrell, who had been forced into duty at backup point guard due to all of the injuries.

After the flagrant foul led to a five-point possession for the Thunder, the Wolves were never able to regain the momentum. The game was still close for the most part until the Thunder pushed it back to 12 about two-thirds of the way through the fourth quarter, and even then Minnesota got back to within four with a couple of minutes left.

But the Thunder were able to draw three consecutive fouls on jump shots on the offensive end and made all of their free throws. The Wolves just couldn’t outscore the Thunder in this one, and OKC held on for the win.

KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS. B+. Towns had only six points at halftime and was largely a non-factor until the final frame. He came alive down the stretch, taking advantage of Steven Adams fouling out of the game midway through the fourth quarter. KAT finished with 35 points (11-18 FG, 0-1 3P, 13-14 FT), seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block. He struggled with Adams’ physicality and needed to make more of an impact on the glass early in the game.. Center. Minnesota Timberwolves

A-. Wiggins was fantastic on offense, especially in the first half. He had 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including 3-of-5 from outside the arc. Wiggins also pitched in five rebounds, four assists, and two steals. He was hit-and-miss on defense, however, and committed two of the bad fouls on jump shooters down the stretch with the game still in the balance. That said, the offensive improvement from Wiggins of late was sorely needed.. Guard/Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. ANDREW WIGGINS

Power Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. DARIO SARIC. B+. Saric didn’t do much outside of a monster third quarter. He drained four 3-pointers in the frame and finished the night 5-of-9 from deep en route to 23 points. He only had three rebounds, one assist and one block and was complicit with Towns in the Wolves’ lack of rebounding in a close game. Saric has continued to look more comfortable on offense of late, and that’s encouraging to see as we draw ever closer to the offseason.

Guard/Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. JOSH OKOGIE. A-. Okogie was always going to be essential to the Wolves hanging around in this one as all perimeter defenders were needed to take on both Westbrook and George. He only attempted five shots in 36 minutes, making three of them, but the story was his defense. Okogie was outstanding, and especially against Westbrook in the early stages of the game. He drew at least three offensive fouls on the Thunder, won a jump ball from Westbrook, and had three blocks and two steals in another impressive performance on national TV.

A. Jones only had four points heading into the fourth quarter but was impressive in distributing the ball all afternoon. He finished with 10 points (3-8 FG, 0-1 3P, 4-4 FT), 13 assists, five rebounds, and zero turnovers as the Minnesota native continues to lead the league in assist-to-turnover ratio.. Point Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves. TYUS JONES

Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. ANTHONY TOLLIVER. B-. Tolliver was fine in another 16-minute stint. He finished with five points, two rebounds and a steal and was solid on defense as the Wolves switched everything against the potent Oklahoma City offense.

Center. Minnesota Timberwolves. GORGUI DIENG. A. <a href=

The rest of the players

Keita Bates-Diop was very good again, ending up with seven points, three rebounds, two steals and an assist in 19 minutes. His versatility on both ends of the floor is helpful against teams like OKC, and the Wolves probably should have leaned on him a bit more over players like Cameron Reynolds or Tolliver.

Reynolds had a poor game, logging just a rebound and an assist in seven minutes and not attempting a shot. He did manage to commit two turnovers, however.

Terrell was decent after struggling mightily in each of his previous NBA stints, finishing with four points and two assists in 13 minutes at backup point guard. He’s more of natural two-guard, so his performance was generally impressive.

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What’s Next?

The Timberwolves will stay at home for the Target Center finale on Tuesday night as they host the Toronto Raptors at 7 p.m. CT.