Player grades from Minnesota Timberwolves’ road loss to Nuggets

The shorthanded Minnesota Timberwolves dropped their fourth consecutive game on Sunday afternoon with a road loss to the Denver Nuggets.

Minnesota Timberwolves
116
Denver Nuggets
128

The Minnesota Timberwolves were without both Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell on Sunday in Denver, but still managed to put up a decent fight against one of the league’s best teams.

Minnesota had a lead in the second quarter and was within three points early in the third, but never drew closer than six in the final frame as the Nuggets pulled away and held the Wolves at arm’s length in the closing minutes of the game.

The Wolves had two undrafted rookies in the starting lineup in Jordan McLaughlin and Naz Reid and featured another, Kelan Martin, play 30 minutes off the bench and lead the team in scoring. Plus, with Allen Crabbe out for personal reasons, second-round pick Jaylen Nowell played 16 minutes off the bench as well.

With Towns, Russell, Crabbe and Jake Layman all unavailable, Minnesota only played nine players. Unfortunately, foul trouble to the team’s two starters in the frontcourt were a major issue.

In his return to Denver, Juan Hernangomez picked up two personal fouls in the first four minutes of the game, and a third when he returned to the floor in the final moments of the first quarter. While Hernangomez managed to avoid picking up any more fouls for the balance of the game, Reid got into early foul trouble as well and finished with five personals.

There was no depth in the frontcourt, however, with James Johnson coming off the bench as the only player accustomed to functioning as a big man on a regular basis. Martin was forced into action at the 4 with Johnson filling in at the 5, as Hernangomez played just 27 minutes and Reid only 22.

While both teams shot the ball well enough that rebounding wasn’t too much of an issue, but there were some timely boards by the Nuggets in the third quarter with Reid on the bench due to foul trouble.

The Wolves struggled mightily defensively, although they competed throughout the game once again. If nothing else, the team has played harder and appeared more prepared to play — on both ends of the floor — than the pre-trade deadline version of Ryan Saunders’ squad.

Player Grades

Malik Beasley had a fairly quiet start to the game but got hot midway through the first half. He wasn’t as involved as he probably should have been in the second half, however, and finished with 17 points (6-13 FG, 2-5 3P, 3-4 FT) and eight rebounds. Credit the Nuggets for not allowing Beasley to get open coming around screens in the sets that the Wolves designed to get Beasley open 3-point attempts on the catch. Minnesota has to find a way to get him more than five long-range attempts in a game." >

MALIK BEASLEY

Wing, Minnesota Timberwolves

B+

Malik Beasley had a fairly quiet start to the game but got hot midway through the first half. He wasn’t as involved as he probably should have been in the second half, however, and finished with 17 points (6-13 FG, 2-5 3P, 3-4 FT) and eight rebounds. Credit the Nuggets for not allowing Beasley to get open coming around screens in the sets that the Wolves designed to get Beasley open 3-point attempts on the catch. Minnesota has to find a way to get him more than five long-range attempts in a game.
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NAZ REID

Center, Minnesota Timberwolves

B

Outside of foul trouble, Naz Reid had another strong game. Putting up 13 points (5-12 FG, 1-4 3P, 2-3 FT), five rebounds, an assist and a steal in 22 minutes, Reid only served to continue boosting his per-36-minute numbers that have been so tantalizing all season long. In addition to strong feel and good shooting touch on offense, Reid continues to show decent ability on defense, too, although foul trouble and rebounding are still a bit spotty.