Player grades from Minnesota Timberwolves’ win over Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 18: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves rebounds the ball. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 18: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves rebounds the ball. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves logged their most impressive win of the young season by handing the Utah Jazz their first home loss of the campaign.

102. 118. Final. 112. 86

The shorthanded Minnesota Timberwolves fought from start to finish and handed the Utah Jazz their first loss at Vivint SmartHome Arena thus far in the young season.

Despite missing Andrew Wiggins and Shabazz Napier and losing Jake Layman just before halftime to a foot injury, the Wolves used timely 3-pointers from Karl-Anthony Towns, key bench minutes from Gorgui Dieng, solid start-to-finish play from Robert Covington, and an awesome performance by two-way player Kelan Martin to put the Jazz away.

The Wolves had a solid scheme early, which basically consisted of Karl-Anthony Towns staying beyond the arc and launching threes to keep Gobert out of the paint. Towns shot the 3-ball well enough, but the Wolves other players struggled to convert at or near the rim in the first half. A few too many shots rimmed in and out, and the Jazz were able to stay within a few possessions.

The Jazz built a six-point lead late in the first quarter before a 10-0 run by the Wolves vaulted them in front.

The second quarter was a period full of runs for both teams, which meant that nobody could gain too much separation. The Wolves used a quick 10-2 burst to close the second quarter to get their lead back to three at halftime.

The third quarter was a struggle on offense for both teams, with far more bricks clanking off the rim than shots finding the bottom of the net.

Towns picked up four offensive fouls in the first two-plus quarters and had to hit the bench earlier than planned in the third frame, but Dieng was solid all night long. With Ed Davis out, the Jazz didn’t have any big men backing up Gobert, and Dieng took advantage of being matched up against Jeff Green.

The fourth quarter was all about aggression from Jeff Teague, timely plays on both ends of the floor by Covington, and a series of deep 3-point makes from Towns. Then, Martin atoned for a rough pair of games on Friday and Saturday with a massive performance on Monday in Salt Lake City, including a dagger of a 3-pointer form the right corner that extended the Wolves’ lead to 103-90 late in the fourth quarter.

This was a solid win from the Wolves. Towns did what he needed to do, Teague and Covington had solid nights, and Ryan Saunders had a pair of bench players step up in Dieng and Martin. And it was enough to beat a divisional opponent and likely top-four seed in the Western Conference.

Player Grades

A-. Outside of a weird stretch in the third quarter in which Towns chose to go after <a rel=. Center. Minnesota Timberwolves. KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS

A. Covington was great in this one. The 15 points (5-10 FG, 2-5 3P, 3-3 FT), eight rebounds, two steals, block and assist looks nice, but his impact was much, much greater. RoCo was everywhere defensively as the Wolves’ switching concept was effective in slowing down <a rel=. Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. ROBERT COVINGTON

A-. Teague was extremely aggressive once again, and while he struggled from the field early, he was a big part of the Wolves keeping the foot on the gas late and orchestrated the pick-and-roll with Towns beautifully down the stretch. Teague finished with 21 points (7-18 FG, 1-2 3P, 6-7 FT), 11 assists, and five rebounds with only two turnovers. He did a solid job on <a rel=. Point Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves. JEFF TEAGUE

B-. Graham was once again hard to watch on offense but was a key part of the defensive attack. He started the game and was scoreless in 25 minutes but was a +4 in the plus-minus column. Graham was absolutely a big part of holding down Mitchell and Bogdanovic as well.. Wing. Minnesota Timberwolves. TREVEON GRAHAM

B. Culver had a quiet game off the bench and was overshadowed by two-way player Kelan Martin. Culver finished with five points on 2-of-7 shooting, although he did hit a huge 3-pointer late in the third quarter that kept the Wolves within a possession after Towns had to head to the bench with foul trouble. Culver added three rebounds, three blocks, and two assists.. Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves. JARRETT CULVER

Minnesota Timberwolves. JOSH OKOGIE. B+. Okogie gutted through a sore knee and played despite a questionable label heading into the night. He was awesome on Mitchell, who needed 24 shots to get 17 points. Okogie also added 11 points on just five shots, knocking down four of his five free throw attempts. He also pulled down five rebounds.. Guard/Forward

A. Martin struggled mightily on Friday and Saturday after being recalled from the Iowa Wolves of the G League in the wake of Wiggins’ absence. Over the three NBA games Martin had played in prior to Monday night, he was 0-for-11 on 3-point attempts and had a total of three rebounds in 35 minutes. Against the Jazz, Martin had 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting and pulled down six rebounds in only 24 minutes. In addition to a dagger 3-pointer late, Martin also hit a couple of tough floaters down the stretch to help the Wolves’ maintain their lead. He also had an impressive defensive rebound in the closing minutes, helping Towns keep Gobert off the glass.. Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. KELAN MARTIN

Other Players

Jake Layman started and played just 14 minutes before leaving just before halftime with what the team called foot soreness. He was following up his 21-point performance against the Rockets on Saturday with yet another solid game before the injury.

Gorgui Dieng received the backup minutes at the 5 in this one and was great, and especially in the first half. He finished with eight points, five rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block in 15 minutes. Noah Vonleh received his first DNP-CD of the season.

Keita Bates-Diop played 13 minutes and was solid, looking much more comfortable than he did in Saturday’s loss to Houston.

Next. The Wolves don't need a point guard to succeed. dark

Up Next

The Wolves head back to Minnesota to face the Jazz on Wednesday in part two of a good ol’ fashioned home-and-home series. The game tips off at 7 p.m. CT.