Player grades from Minnesota Timberwolves’ home loss to Rockets

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 24: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Houston Rockets reacts to a play against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 24: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Houston Rockets reacts to a play against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves once again played a superior opponent tough before failing to execute late and ultimately losing.

Final. 131. 169. 124. 86

Less than a month after ending an 11-game losing streak, the Minnesota Timberwolves have now allowed an eight-game losing streak to build.

This stretch of futility feels at least a little different, however, as the Wolves have been in the game with a chance to win late in seven of the the eight losses, and all of them but one have come at the hands of likely playoff teams.

This time around fit the bill. The Wolves fell behind by 13 points in the second quarter with Karl-Anthony Towns on the bench, but a flurry of scoring right before halftime brought them within three.

James Harden had a bad night, scoring 13 points on 3-of-13 shooting and missing all six of his 3-point attempts. The Rockets were carried by their bench in the first half, with Austin Rivers and Danuel House leading the way.

Houston only played eight players and leaned heavily on Russell Westbrook to destroy the Wolves’ poor paint defense. He did just that en route to a season-high 45 points. Westbrook didn’t even attempt a 3-pointer, content to get wherever he wanted to inside the arc. He was a perfect 13-of-13 from the free throw line and pitched in 10 rebounds and six assists as well.

Minnesota finally found an opponent that they could dominate on the glass and did a solid job of creating turnovers, too. The offense even got hot late in the game, keeping the Wolves in the game while they were simply unable to slow down Westbrook’s attack.

Down the stretch, the Wolves couldn’t execute offensively and the Rockets made them pay with efficient offense on the other end of the floor.

It was a disappointing finish to a game in which the Wolves were legitimately competitive throughout. Now, the Oklahoma City Thunder will be in town just 24 hours later.

Player Grades

Center. Minnesota Timberwolves. KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS. A-. Karl-Anthony Towns was solid throughout, save for getting himself into foul trouble. He finished with 30 points (12-23 FG, 2-5 3P, 4-4 FT), 12 rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Ideally, Towns would be shooting twice as many times from both beyond the arc and the free throw line, but he still managed to be decently efficient. Overall, he did a decent job on Clint Capela, although his paint defense was inconsistent once again.

Andrew Wiggins started slow once again but it didn’t quite take him until the third quarter to warm up a bit in this one, thankfully. He was genuinely solid in this one, putting up 28 points (11-19 FG, 3-7 3P, 3-4 FT), five rebounds, three assists and a steal. Wiggins was also partly responsible for the subpar perimeter defense, but he obviously wasn’t the only one to blame.. Wing. Minnesota Timberwolves. ANDREW WIGGINS. B

Minnesota Timberwolves. JOSH OKOGIE. A. Josh Okogie had another solid game in what has become a weird trade-off of either Okogie or Jarrett Culver having great performances while the other struggles. The former got the start in this one and proved Ryan Saunders correct, scoring 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting and filling out the box score in other ways, too, with six rebounds, four assists and three steals. Okogie was solid when matched up one-on-one against Harden, and in hindsight, the Wolves should have made more of a concerted effort to put him on Westbrook in the second half.. Wing

B-. This was another too-quiet game from Robert Covington. He had just 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting and was 2-of-8 on 3-point attempts. RoCo also contributed seven rebounds, two blocks and a steal and his typically solid team defense, although Wolves not named Okogie and Covington were less than helpful on that end of the floor.. Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. ROBERT COVINGTON

B. Shabazz Napier had another quiet game, although it was partly due to an impressive all-around performance from Jordan McLaughlin and a rolled ankle suffered by Napier in the final moments of the second quarter. When it was all said and done, Napier had nine points on just four shot attempts to go along with five rebounds, five assists, and four turnovers. If his ankle issue lingers at all on Saturday, the Wolves will be in a tough spot at the point guard position.. Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves. SHABAZZ NAPIER

Minnesota Timberwolves. JORDAN MCLAUGHLIN. B. Jordan McLaughlin had an interesting game. He went from getting his pocket picked on the perimeter and allowing a dunk to Austin Rivers early in the second quarter to throwing down a poster-worthy dunk over Capela and hitting a 3-pointer in transition shortly thereafter. Then, in the second half, he was once again pick-pocketed by Rivers as part of a rough stretch of minutes. He finished with eight points on 3-of-6 shooting with four assists and three turnovers.. Point Guard

Other Players

The Wolves bench was solid overall. From McLaughlin to Allen Crabbe’s eight points in 22 minutes, there was fairly consistent production across the board.

Jarrett Culver stabilized after a pair of poor games with a seven-point, three-rebound performance in 18 minutes, although he took nine shots to get his points.

Keita Bates-Diop had a really strong stretch in the second half with an impressive steal and dunk and finished with an awesome line of five points, six rebounds, six assists and three blocks with zero turnovers in 18 minutes. The Wolves were a +1 with KBD on the floor.

Gorgui Dieng had a quiet night in what is always a tough matchup. He had two points, four rebounds and two assists and missed his only 3-point attempt.

dark. Next. On Gorgui Dieng's development from 3-point range

Up Next

The Wolves turn around and host the Oklahoma City Thunder at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday. The Thunder played in OKC at home on Friday night and will also be on the second half of a back-to-back.