Player grades from Minnesota Timberwolves’ win over Pistons

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 11: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves celebrates a second half three point basket against the Detroit Pistons. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 11: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves celebrates a second half three point basket against the Detroit Pistons. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves played in their first back-to-back on Monday evening and managed to emerge victorious, hanging on against the Detroit Pistons.

120. 86. 114. 64. Final

The Minnesota Timberwolves lost a heartbreaker in overtime on Sunday against the Denver Nuggets and had to hope on a plane to fly to Detroit for the back half of their first back-to-back of the season on Monday.

As it turned out, the Wolves led nearly wire-to-wire and hung on down the stretch to improve their record to 6-4 on the season.

Karl-Anthony Towns’ struggles against Andre Drummond have been well-documented, but he got the best of the matchup this time around. Each of the star big men were saddled with foul trouble early on, limiting their impact on the game.

The difference in this one began with the Wolves knocking down eight 3-pointers in the first quarter alone. On the heels of a 13.3 percent performance from beyond the arc on Sunday, Minnesota was on-point from deep to open this game.

Blake Griffin made his season debut for the Pistons and was effective early before struggling both from the field and in taking care of the ball as the game wore on. His line of 19 points, seven rebounds, and six assists in just 24 minutes looked good, but four turnovers and some shoddy defense limited his overall impact.

Derrick Rose started for the first time this year for the Pistons but struggled mightily, shooting just 3-of-13 from the field and finishing with only six points in 20 minutes.

Towns had a couple of strong stretches in this one but wasn’t as effective in the paint or on the glass. He did some damage from the mid-range and beyond the arc, and utterly dominated Thon Maker when the Pistons backup big man was on the court.

Overall, the Wolves were okay on defense but dynamic on offense throughout. There were several times that Detroit was able to pull within single digits in the second half, but the Wolves were seemingly able to hit a 3-pointer and a layup to build their lead right back up into double digits virtually every time the Pistons made a push.

It was an all-around solid performance from the Wolves on the second night of a back-to-back, and they’ll head home for a winnable game against San Antonio on Wednesday.

Player Grades

Towns was good but not great yet again, but he was good enough on offense and active enough on defense to do his part to get the Wolves the win. He finished with 25 points (10-17 FG, 4-7 3P, 1-1 FT), eight rebounds, six assists, and two blocks in 30 minutes. Towns’ early foul trouble and the matchup against Drummond limited his impact in the paint, and he only made one trip to the free throw line and didn’t manage to tally a double-double.. Center. Minnesota Timberwolves. KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS. B+

A. Wiggins was fantastic, scoring in a variety of ways but most notably on straight-line drives to the front of the rim, where he sunk floaters and finger-rolls over and around hapless Detroit defenders. He ultimately had 33 points on 20 shots and made three of his five 3-point attempts. Wiggins also added six rebounds and five assists, as the days of empty box scores might just be coming to an end for Maple Jordan.. Wing. Minnesota Timberwolves. ANDREW WIGGINS

C+. Covington had another slow game, scoring just 10 points on eight shots and pulling down only four rebounds. RoCo played only 23 minutes and didn’t start the second half, although it’s unclear why. He also left for much of the fourth quarter after being inadvertently poked in the eye.. Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. ROBERT COVINGTON

Minnesota Timberwolves. TREVEON GRAHAM. A. This was one of Treveon Graham’s best performances in a Timberwolves uniform. He picked his teammates up during a couple of dry spells on offense when things were stagnant and the Wolves were in danger of letting the Pistons pull closer. Graham finished with 13 points (6-11 FG, 1-3 3P), six rebounds, and three assists in 24 minutes.. Wing

Okogie started in place of Jarrett Culver in this one as the rookie headed back to the bench. Perhaps Okogie was thrown off by some additional ball-handling responsibilities, but he struggled to the tune of an 0-for-4 night and four rebounds in 25 minutes. He was good on defense, per usual, but didn’t help out in any other areas.. Guard/Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. JOSH OKOGIE. C

Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves. JARRETT CULVER. B. Culver came off the bench and continued to look progressively more comfortable as a professional. He had seven points on 3-for-8 shooting and pitched in a pair of rebounds and a pair of assists. Culver tied for second on the team in plus-minus at +7. He knocked down a couple of nice floaters near the paint and generally looked more in control than he did in the first few games of his career.

Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. JAKE LAYMAN. A. Layman was fantastic for the first time in awhile, scoring 16 points (6-9 FG, 4-5 3P, 0-1 FT) and chipping in two rebounds, two steals, an assist, and a block. After an 0-for-6 performance from long-range just over 24 hours earlier, Layman was locked in for this one and was one of the better players on the floor for the Wolves.

Other Players

Noah Vonleh and Gorgui Dieng each played 17 minutes in this game. At times, they were each on the court as the only big man and each had a turn playing alongside either each other or Towns in a more traditional frontcourt look.

It took until late in the second quarter, but Ryan Saunders and the Wolves coaching staff made the adjustment to playing big in order to check Drummond and Griffin at the same time.

They each played well, with Vonleh guarding Griffin effectively and Dieng doing a bit more on the offense end of the floor. It was a masterful use of the trio of big men to cover for Towns’ early foul trouble and manage against a bigger and better-rebounding team in the Pistons.

Jordan McLaughlin again served as the backup point guard and saw 12 minutes off the bench in this one, putting up three points, four assists, and three rebounds in a decent performance.

Next. Checking in on the Wolves' top offseason additions. dark

Up Next

The Wolves head back to Minneapolis to prepare for hosting the San Antonio Spurs at 7 p.m. CT on Wednesday.