Player grades from Minnesota Timberwolves’ road loss to Nuggets

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 23: Naz Reid #11 of the Minnesota Timberwolves reacts to a play against the Denver Nuggets. (Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 23: Naz Reid #11 of the Minnesota Timberwolves reacts to a play against the Denver Nuggets. (Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images) /

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

116. 86. 128. 73. Final

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

Minnesota Timberwolves. MALIK BEASLEY. B+. <a rel=. Wing

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.. Center. Minnesota Timberwolves. NAZ REID. B

C-. Juancho Hernangomez got into early foul trouble and was never able to get on track. He only had one basket until midway through the fourth quarter. The former Nuggets finished with seven points on 2-of-9 shooting and only four rebounds in 27 minutes. Simply put, Minnesota needed more out of him in this one with how shorthanded they were.. Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. JUANCHO HERNANGOMEZ

B-. <a rel=. Wing. Minnesota Timberwolves. JOSH OKOGIE

B. Jordan McLaughlin was the only point guard available for the Wolves in this one. He had a decidedly up-and-down game, finishing with 15 points on nine shots and dishing out 10 assists, but committing three turnovers and logging a team-worst plus-minus of -17. McLaughlin continues to make the case to audition for a roster spot on next year’s team with a series of solid performances as of late.. Point Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves. JORDAN MCLAUGHLIN

Wing. Minnesota Timberwolves. KELAN MARTIN. A-. Kelan Martin was ultra-aggressive, putting up 19 points by halftime and playing a big role in keeping the Wolves in the game early. He finished with just 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting, however, making three of his eight 3-point attempts. Martin also had four rebounds and a block while committing just one turnover and finishing with a +3 in 30 minutes off the bench.

Other Players

Jarrett Culver came off the bench and pitched in 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting and 3-of-4 on 3-point attempts but made just 1-of-4 tries from the free throw line. Culver had a rough first-half stint but was much better in the second half. He finished with five assists and three rebounds but also committed three turnovers.

James Johnson played 27 minutes and was asked to do a lot once again for his shorthanded team. His line of 13 points, five rebounds, four assists, and two steals looks nice, but he was a team-worst -22 and had a handful of head-scratching offensive possessions. Overall, however, he’s simply being overextended for a team that doesn’t have enough healthy players.

Jaylen Nowell was pulled up from the G League for the game and had a decent game. He scored six points in 16 minutes and adding two assists, although he missed all three of his 3-point attempts.

What does a Towns-less rotation look like?. dark. Next

Next Up

The Wolves turn around and head to Dallas to take on the Mavericks on Monday night. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m.