Player grades from Minnesota Timberwolves’ loss to the Grizzlies

MEMPHIS, TN - NOVEMBER 6: Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies handles the ball against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
MEMPHIS, TN - NOVEMBER 6: Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies handles the ball against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The shorthanded Minnesota Timberwolves dropped a winnable game in Memphis on Wednesday night, losing to the Grizzlies by 16 points.

86. 137. 211. Final. 121

The Minnesota Timberwolves welcomed Karl-Anthony Towns back to the lineup on Wednesday night following a two-game suspension. One might think they would have had a relatively easy time against the 1-5 Memphis Grizzlies.

But starting point guard Jeff Teague stayed back in the Twin Cities due to illness and backup Shabazz Napier missed the game with a hamstring strain.

That meant that rookie Jarrett Culver started at the point and Josh Okogie was also slotted into the starting lineup with Treveon Graham coming off the bench. Additionally, two-way player Jordan McLaughlin was called up from the G League’s Iowa Wolves to serve as the backup point guard.

The Wolves came out hot, building a quick early lead and looking like they might be able to take control.

But from the midway point of the opening frame, the Grizzlies took control of the game. They built an 11-point lead at the end of the first quarter and built the league up to 16 points midway through the second.

The Wolves pulled closer, even taking a one-point lead late in the first half, but the Grizzlies were impressive in wresting back control of the contest and re-building an eight-point lead at the break.

Minnesota once again pulled even in the third quarter, but the home team once again got the lead back up to five points.

And from there, the fourth quarter was all Grizzlies. With the Wolves in striking distance, Ryan Saunders perhaps stuck with McLaughlin on the floor and Robert Covington and Towns on the bench a bit too long as Memphis pushed their lead back to double figures.

The biggest issue for the Wolves in this one was rebounding, getting out-boarded by Memphis by a 49-36 margin. The Grizzlies were out of their minds on offense, draining 12 of 23 (52.2 percent) from beyond the arc after coming into the game with the league’s worst 3-point shooting offense.

While Minnesota had their defensive issues — you can’t give up 137 points to a non-playoff team without that being the case — but the Grizzlies had an extremely impressive and out-of-character shooting night.

Player Grades

Minnesota Timberwolves. KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS. B-. Towns started hot but cooled off quickly. His final line of 25 points (8-19 FG, 3-11 3P, 6-6 FT), 13 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks looks decent enough, but it’s a bit misleading. Towns clearly displayed some rust, struggling to score in the paint and his jumper appearing a bit off all night. He was called for a couple of cheap fouls, per usual, including a borderline (at best) flagrant foul late in the game for apparently sliding under <a rel=. Center

B. It was another encouraging night from <a rel=. Wing. Minnesota Timberwolves. ANDREW WIGGINS

C+. Covington hit three impressive 3-point shots early but was quiet otherwise. He finished with 15 points but only two rebounds to go along with his two steals and two blocks. As it turns out, playing Covington at the 4 against teams with huge frontlines will be an issue if the Wolves can’t overcome the inevitable rebounding deficit with decent perimeter shooting.. Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. ROBERT COVINGTON

A-. Graham had a horrible shot to the game, missing his first four shots in only a couple of minutes. But he was impressive from that point forward, putting up 10 points (4-9 FG, 2-3 3P), six rebounds, four assists, one steal, and one block. He continues to add a nice edge on the defensive end of the floor and was active during the Wolves’ third quarter run.. Wing. Minnesota Timberwolves. TREVEON GRAHAM

Minnesota Timberwolves. JOSH OKOGIE. B+. Okogie started for the first time this season and was immediately in foul trouble, which limited him to only 20 minutes. He was good when he was on the court, however, putting up seven points on four shots, plus four rebounds, and two assists. Okogie was the catalyst behind a quick 5-0 fourth-quarter run that pulled the Wolves to within 108-106 with under nine minutes left in the game.. Guard/Forward

A. Culver started at point guard and was quite impressive, finishing with the only positive plus-minus on the Wolves roster with a +4. He had 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting and 2-of-5 from beyond the arc and chipped in seven assists and five rebounds. Perhaps even more impressive: Culver had zero turnovers in his 30 minutes while initiating offense virtually the entire time.. Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves. JARRETT CULVER

Minnesota Timberwolves. JAKE LAYMAN. B-. Layman finished with a solid line in the box score but was largely invisible in his 22 minutes. The nine points on 3-of-7 shooting, three steals, and two assists looks nice, but the Wolves need more consistency both from beyond the arc and as a cutter from Layman.. Forward

Other Players

McLaughlin played 22 minutes off the bench at backup point guard. He shot 2-of-7 from the field, making one of his four 3-point attempts and had two assists and zero turnovers. McLaughlin was fine overall, but the Wolves clearly played much better on both ends of the floor with Culver or Wiggins running the point.

Noah Vonleh played 16 minutes and had five points, four rebounds, and four assists. He even shared the floor with Towns for a few short minutes; one wonders why Saunders didn’t roll with that lineup a bit longer to try and solve the rebounding disparity.

Gorgui Dieng played three minutes and Jaylen Nowell played the final minute of the game. Dieng had a basket and a steal in his minutes and probably should have played more against a decently large Memphis front line.

Next. Surprises and disappointments from Wolves' first week. dark

Up Next

The Wolves will return home to take on the Golden State Warriors on Friday night, who are without Steph Curry and Draymond Green in what should be another winnable game for Minnesota.