Player grades from Minnesota Timberwolves’ loss to Trail Blazers

PORTLAND, OREGON - DECEMBER 21: Robert Covington #33 of the Minnesota Timberwolves works towards the basket against CJ McCollum #3 of the Portland Trail Blazers. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OREGON - DECEMBER 21: Robert Covington #33 of the Minnesota Timberwolves works towards the basket against CJ McCollum #3 of the Portland Trail Blazers. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves were without Karl-Anthony Towns for a third consecutive game, but they at least put up a fight before losing their tenth in a row.

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The Minnesota Timberwolves finished off a tough road back-to-back with another solid effort, but it once again was not enough with Karl-Anthony Towns unavailable.

Towns missed his third consecutive game with a left knee sprain, and while Gorgui Dieng continued to play well in his stead, the Trail Blazers’ volume-scoring backcourt and the rebounding of Hassan Whiteside was too much for the Wolves.

Minnesota hung around in the first half but still trailed by nine at halftime. Robert Covington was scoreless at the break and Jeff Teague had just four points off the bench — not a recipe for success for a Towns-less squad.

But Teague came to life in the second half, scoring 14 points in the third quarter. Andrew Wiggins was solid throughout the game, and while Shabazz Napier and Teague struggled to contain Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum defensively, they kept the Wolves in it on the other end of the floor.

Minnesota was back within five points and had the ball with just over a minute to play, but an air-balled 3-point attempt by Shabazz Napier was followed by a huge offensive rebound and put-back by Whiteside on the other end, and Portland pushed their lead back to seven with 41 seconds to go. That was effectively it, as Minnesota couldn’t string together enough made shots and stops and ultimately lost by that same seven-point margin.

While there’s nothing good to say about a 10-game losing streak, the positive thing about the two losses in the past 25 hours is that the Wolves have competed and didn’t simply roll over. There’s something to be said for that, given how rough the past couple of weeks have been and how tough this particular back-to-back was.

Player Grades

ANDREW WIGGINS. B. Wiggins was good, scoring 33 points on 13-of-24 shooting and making four of his six 3-point attempts. He also had six rebounds and three blocks, but had only one assist against five turnovers. He was aggressive on offense, scoring both from inside the paint and from beyond the arc. The Wolves need more from him on the defensive end of the floor, however, as the consistency still isn’t quite there.. Wing. Minnesota Timberwolves

C-. Robert Covington had just three points in this game on 1-of-6 shooting and 1-of-5 from beyond the arc. He had five rebounds, one steal and one block in 30 minutes but simply didn’t do enough to help his team win.. Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. ROBERT COVINGTON

B+. Jeff Teague came off the bench again and scored 14 of his 18 points in the third quarter. His final line of 18 points (6-9 FG, 2-2 3P, 4-4 FT), eight assists, six rebounds and a block in 27 minutes was fantastic, and his strong third quarter is what kept the Wolves in striking distance at the start of the fourth quarter.. Point Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves. JEFF TEAGUE

B. In Towns’ absence, Gorgui Dieng played a team-high 37 minutes and put up 15 points and 12 rebounds. He shot just 3-of-12 from the field but was 3-for-7 from 3-point shooting, meaning that he was 0-for-5 inside the arc. Dieng had a tough time in the paint against Whiteside, who finished with 16 points and 22 rebounds of his own. Gorgui did add two assists, two steals, and a block.. Center. Minnesota Timberwolves. GORGUI DIENG

SHABAZZ NAPIER. B. Shabazz Napier started his second consecutive game and was good early before having a rough second half. Ultimately, Napier had 18 points (7-15 FG, 4-10 3P), four rebounds, four assists, and three steals but struggled mightily on defense and down the stretch with the ball in his hands as well.. Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves

Other Players

Josh Okogie started and played 23 minutes but was just 2-of-5 from the floor and didn’t contribute much at all. Jarrett Culver played 15 minutes off the bench and scored only two points.

Noah Vonleh played 12 minutes at the center spot and had four points and three rebounds while Keita Bates-Diop had only five points in 18 minutes of play. Jaylen Nowell had four points in 14 minutes but was 0-for-3 from beyond the arc.

Neither Jordan Bell or Treveon Graham saw the court in this one.

The Wolves had 33 points from Wiggins, 18 apiece from Napier and Teague, and 15 from Dieng. The other six players that saw the court for the Wolves each scored five points or less.

Next. Starting Jarrett Culver makes sense for the Wolves. dark

Next Up

The Wolves are off on Sunday before taking on the Warriors on Monday evening. Golden State is still just 6-24, although they beat the Pelicans last time out.