Player grades from Timberwolves’ road loss to Suns

The Minnesota Timberwolves dropped their fifth game in a row and finished their road trip winless after falling to the Phoenix Suns.

Final
Minnesota Timberwolves
109
Phoenix Suns
125

The Phoenix Suns came to Minnesota a couple of weeks ago and escaped with a two-point win, despite not having Ricky Rubio and Aron Baynes.

Both players returned on Monday in Phoenix, and the Suns took advantage of contributions from each of them as they pulled away down the stretch to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves for the second time this season.

While the Wolves were playing the back-end of a road back-to-back and the third road game in four nights, it was nonetheless a deflating loss. It was close for much of the game but things began to spiral late in the third quarter and entirely got away late in the fourth.

A night after Anthony Davis and LeBron James went off on the Wolves, transition defense was once again an issue for Minnesota. Rebounding was a problem as well, as the Suns pulled down 12 offensive boards and were leading in overall rebounding for much of the game.

Second-chance points and sloppy turnovers by the Wolves led to too many easy buckets for Phoenix. Rubio sliced and diced the Wolves with his third consecutive game with 13 or more assists, and his final line of 16 points, 14 assists, and four rebounds is exactly the sort of box score mark that the Wolves would welcome out of their point guard.

Alas, the Wolves’ struggles continued, and after Phoenix built a double-digit lead late in the third quarter, they led by nine heading into the fourth. With Karl-Anthony Towns on the bench, the Suns stretched it to 12 before Towns reentered with about eight minutes to go, but Minnesota could never draw any closer.

Player Grades

KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS

Center, Minnesota Timberwolves

A

Towns was fantastic early, putting up 21 points by halftime. But the Wolves struggled to get him involved once again at times, and KAT wasn’t able to distribute the ball as he typically has of late. His final line of 33 points (12-18 FG, 2-4 3P, 7-9 FT), 15 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks with only two turnovers looks nice, but unfortunately he was the only Wolf to show up to play on this night.

ANDREW WIGGINS

Wing, Minnesota Timberwolves

B+

Wiggins had a decent game but didn’t really show up until late in the second quarter. His last few games have been a bit rough around the edges, but 23 points on 18 shots with four rebounds and four assists would have been one of his better games in any of the last few years. If he’s going to continue to function as the de facto point guard with the first unit, the assist numbers need to come back up.

ROBERT COVINGTON

Forward, Minnesota Timberwolves

D

After being so solid over the past week-and-a-half or so, Covington struggled mightily in this one. He finished with just four points on 1-of-5 shooting and 0-of-4 from beyond the arc and only pulled down two rebounds in 26 minutes. Again, if RoCo is going to play the 4, he needs to contribute more on the glass.

JARRETT CULVER

Guard, Minnesota Timberwolves

C-

This was one of the worst all-around games we’ve seen from Culver in awhile. He finished with six points and six rebounds but still managed to turn the ball over in just 15 minutes of play; he struggled to stay on the court due to constant foul trouble. When the game started, Culver was tasked with guarding Rubio, but it didn’t last long. It was one to forget for Culver and the Wolves.

JOSH OKOGIE

Guard/Forward, Minnesota Timberwolves

C

Okogie had flashes of strong defensive play in this one while was largely tasked with chasing Devin Booker. The Suns star had 26 points, although it took him 20 shots to get there and it wasn’t as if Okogie was the only one guarding him, either. But Okogie only put up eight points of his own on eight shots with just two rebounds.

JEFF TEAGUE

Point Guard, Minnesota Timberwolves

A-

Teague came off the bench and was solid, putting up 16 points (6-14 FG, 1-2 3P, 3-4 FT), four assists, three rebounds and two steals as he continues to play exceedingly hard when matched up against Ricky Rubio. Outside of a couple of silly turnovers, this was a good game for Jeff.

Other Players

Strangely, the Wolves’ frontcourt rotation was a bit of a roller coaster. Jordan Bell had a strong five-minute stint in the first half and probably should have seen the floor in the second half. Keita Bates-Diop was underutilized, playing 23 minutes but only getting up four shots and not scoring at all until garbage time. He did not attempt a 3-pointer.

Shabazz Napier had an up-and-down night, scoring seven points on 3-of-5 shooting but turning the ball over five times. The experiment alongside Teague in the backcourt has not been going well, to say the least.

Treveon Graham has played better of late in a more limited role. He played 12 minutes in this one, scoring four points and grabbing one rebound. Gorgui Dieng had four points and two rebounds in 12 minutes.

Next: Timberwolves breakout players for the 2019-20 season

Up Next

The Wolves return home to lick their wounds before hosting the Utah Jazz on Wednesday evening.