Player grades from Minnesota Timberwolves’ loss to Suns

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 23: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves looks on during the game against the Phoenix Suns. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 23: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves looks on during the game against the Phoenix Suns. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves dropped a winnable game against the shorthanded Phoenix Suns on Saturday afternoon at Target Center.

98. 86. Final. 100. 66

The Minnesota Timberwolves were shorthanded on Saturday afternoon against the Phoenix Suns, but the Suns were shorthanded, too, and the Wolves had the best player on the floor for either team.

All of it should have added up to a narrow Wolves win, but instead, a combination of poor shooting, bad officiating, and struggles from the free throw line put the Wolves on the wrong side of a two-point result.

The Suns took control early in the game and held a lead of some kind nearly wire-to-wire. The Wolves hung around and made several pushes, but it seemed as though every time they made some progress and appeared to grab some momentum back, the Suns answered.

Karl-Anthony Towns was great throughout this one, and the Wolves probably short-circuited their offense a bit by not making a more concerted effort to get him the ball in the post. Frank Kaminsky simply couldn’t stop him, regardless of where he was on the floor.

The free throw disparity was a joke from the first quarter on, with the officials missing at least three or four calls that should have led to free throw attempts from the Wolves. Things only balanced out slightly in the second half, but the Suns absolutely seemed to be getting the benefit of the whistle from the jump and it affected the flow of the game.

Of course, when Minnesota got to the free throw line they struggled mightily, making just 10 of their 17 attempts. The Wolves also struggled mightily from outside the arc, per usual, finishing 12-of-42 (28.6 percent).

The Wolves had a shot to tie the game late, but Ryan Saunders chose not to call a timeout in a broken floor situation with 14 seconds left. Towns attempted a 3-pointer from the edge of the mid-court logo that was on line but just missed. After a pair of Devin Booker free throws, the Wolves called a timeout and ran a play for a Towns 3-pointer that went in, making the final margin only two points.

If only the timeout had been called the first time around; perhaps the game would have been tied instead of the Wolves facing a five-point deficit with only a few seconds remaining.

All in all, this was a disappointing loss for the Wolves. Despite missing Robert Covington, Josh Okogie, Jake Layman, Treveon Graham, and Shabazz Napier, the Suns were missing two starters in Aron Baynes an Ricky Rubio.

Better days are ahead for Saunders’ crew, but that doesn’t make this one hurt any less.

Player Grades

KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS. A-. Towns had his best all-around game in a few outings, finishing with 31 points (11-19 FG, 6-12 3P, 3-3 FT), 17 rebounds, four assists, and a block. He was a team-high +11 and only committed two personal fouls on the night. Towns should have touched the ball in the post more often and taken Kaminsky and the other Suns big men off the dribble with frequency, but it’s hard to complain about a 50 percent shooting night from beyond the arc.. Center. Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves. ANDREW WIGGINS. C+. Wiggins had another so-so game in his second game back from a three-game absence. His 21 points on 21 shots wasn’t ideal, and he was just 2-of-6 from beyond 3-point range. Wiggins had four rebounds and three assists but committed four turnovers and fouled out. When he chose to go the rim he was largely successful, but didn’t do it enough against a Suns team that is beyond vulnerable in the paint.. Wing

Teague was involved in a lot of ways in this game, but scoring was not one of them. He attempted just five shots on the night and finished with seven points, six rebounds, and eight assists. Teague was a +3, but his unwillingness to attempt jump shots and tentativeness around the rim ultimately hurt the Wolves. He did hit a bit layup in traffic late in the game, but was otherwise underwhelming.. Point Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves. JEFF TEAGUE. B

JARRETT CULVER. B. Culver had an all-around solid game. The only thing that really hurt him in this one was his subpar shooting from beyond the arc. His final line was 11 points (5-13 FG, 1-5 3P), five rebounds, three assists, and two blocks with only one turnover and a +8 in the plus-minus column, which was second-best on the team next to Towns. Culver continues to have two to three impressive forays to the rim per game, but he needs to continue to work on his outside jumper.. Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves

KELAN MARTIN. D. After a pair of extremely strong games, <a rel=. Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves

Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. KEITA BATES-DIOP. B. <a href=

Other Players

Vonleh started but only played eight minutes. He was ineffective early, shooting 0-of-3 from the floor and grabbing only two rebounds.

Gorgui Dieng played the 12 minutes behind Towns, but he didn’t attempt a shot. He did grab five rebounds and log an assist and a block.

While Saunders was busy searching for a successful combination in the first half, he gave Jordan Bell a shot. Bell was solid, putting up three points and nine rebounds in 17 minutes. He also had a pair of blocks and was a +8 while on the floor. Bell’s athleticism and activity was a big part of the Wolves being able to hang around for much of the second half.

Treveon Graham had an arm contusion and didn’t play, so Jaylen Nowell was called up from the G League and finished with three points and three assists in 14 minutes. He was 0-for-3 from beyond the arc but did have a nice old-fashioned 3-point play along the baseline in the second half.

Next. The Wolves should not trade for D'Angelo Russell. dark

What’s Next?

The Wolves will play six of their next seven games on the road, starting with the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.