Player grades from Minnesota Timberwolves road win over Pelicans

The Minnesota Timberwolves bounced back from an awful offensive performance on Sunday with an overwhelming show of offensive force on Tuesday in New Orleans.

Minnesota Timberwolves
New Orleans Pelicans

On Sunday, the Minnesota Timberwolves failed to score 100 points for the first time in their past 24 games. They were awful from everywhere: 40 percent at the free throw line, 31 percent from beyond the arc, and 36.4 percent overall from the floor.

On Tuesday in New Orleans, the Wolves bounced back in a big way. They shot 85 percent at the charity stripe, 41.2 percent on 3-point attempts, and a crazy 55.7 percent from the field.

The Pelicans suspect defense helped, of course, and while the Wolves scored 139 points — a franchise road record for a game that ends in regulation — they gave back 134 and the game went down to the wire, largely due to some of the defensive lapses that fans have grown accustomed to.

After trailing by three at the end of the first quarter, the Wolves found themselves down by a 50-38 score before the bench unit spurred an 17-1 run and propelled them to a 44-point surge in the second quarter. They led by four at halftime, and thing were looking up.

The third quarter was all New Orleans early, however, opening up multiple leads that reached seven points. But by the end of the frame, the Wolves were pushing back once again.

Jordan McLaughlin and Malik Beasley were fantastic throughout the game but were the catalysts of the Wolves’ fourth-quarter success. However, McLaughlin left the game with 8:28 left after being fouled by Zion Williamson and appearing to bang his head on Williamson’s knee. He didn’t return, but D’Angelo Russell played much better down the stretch than he did in the first half of the game.

For the Pelicans, Williamson and Jrue Holiday were the only players that scored until 2:33 was left in the game. New Orleans got within four points with 30.9 seconds left and the deficit ultimately shrunk to three with 8.9 seconds left. But Russell drained a pair of free throws to seal the deal, and that was that.

This was an impressive offensive performance from the Wolves, and despite the 134 points put up by the Pels, Minnesota competed on defense and did a decent job making Williamson work for his 25 points.

Player Grades


Guard, Minnesota Timberwolves


D’Angelo Russell struggled early in this one but came on strong as the Wolves were building a fourth-quarter lead. He still finished with five turnovers, but the 23 points and eight assists certainly helped the Wolves’ cause. Russell shot 8-of-21 from the floor and 3-of-9 from 3-point range. He also was a solid defender, putting forth a clear effort on that end of the floor in a game that was heavy on offense.


Wing, Minnesota Timberwolves


Malik Beasley was magnificent. After turning in a pair of consecutive subpar performances, he dropped 28 points on an impeccable 11-of-13 shooting and 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. Beasley also chipped in four assists and three rebounds with just one turnover in a team-high 36 minutes. By contrast to other recent games when Beasley relied heavily on the 3-point shot, he picked his spots from beyond the arc and attacked the rim both in transition and in the half-court. This was an All-Star-caliber performance from Beas.


Forward, Minnesota Timberwolves


Juan Hernangomez was fantastic, putting up 16 points (6-11 FG, 2-5 3P, 2-3 FT), eight rebounds, three steals and two assists in 34 minutes. Juancho was also key to the Wolves’ defense, providing solid help defense on rotations in the paint, walling up near the rim to slow down the Pelicans’ penetration and pitching in to slow down Zion Williamson. The Wolves need more of exactly what Hernangomez provided in this game moving forward.


Wing, Minnesota Timberwolves


Josh Okogie continued his stretch of strong play, contributing 11 points and four rebounds. He shot 4-of-7 from the field and 1-of-2 from 3-point range, adding his trademark energy on defense and in transition.


Center, Minnesota Timberwolves


Naz Reid got off to a hot start in this one and finished with his first career triple-double at the NBA level. He scored 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting and pulled down 14 rebounds. Reid also contributed across the box score, grabbing three steals and dishing out three assists while swatting away two Pelicans shot attempts. His touch in the paint was on full display in this one and his defense and rebounding contributions appeared to be much improved from the past few games.


Forward, Minnesota Timberwolves


James Johnson had another great statline, finishing with 19 points (8-14 FG, 1-2 3P, 2-4 FT), six rebounds, five assists, and two steals. He also finally shrunk his turnovers, only committing one in 21 minutes off the bench. Johnson is still getting his opportunities to handle the ball with the second unit, and he’s largely done a good job with those responsibilities while providing plenty of defense and toughness on the other end of the floor.


Guard, Minnesota Timberwolves


Jarrett Culver was really good for a second straight game. He finished with 11 points (5-8 FG, 1-3 3P), two rebounds and an assist. Culver was aggressive in the half-court offense and solid on defense as he continues to carve out a nice niche as the Wolves’ secondary ball-handler off the bench.


Guard, Minnesota Timberwolves


Jordan McLaughlin was awesome. The two-way guard had 13 points on a sparkling 6-of-7 shooting effort. He also pitched in six assists, and while he committed four turnovers, they were miscues that are more accurately classified as aggressive mistakes instead of careless ones. He was a team-best +17 in the plus-minus column in this one. McLaughlin left the game with what appeared to be a head injury, so his status in Wolves-Bulls just 24 hours later may be up in the air.

Other Players

Jake Layman played 14 minutes and had two points, shooting 0-of-2 from the field and sinking a pair of free throws. He continues to struggle around the rim in his return after a three-month layoff.

Kelan Martin played only eight minutes, shooting 1-of-2 and grabbing two rebounds. He had a nice 3-point play that he completed for his three points, but still hasn’t found a way to consistently make open 3-pointes at the NBA level.

Next: Jarred Vanderbilt is an underrated acquisition for the Wolves

Up Next

The Wolves are back at home on Wednesday night to host the Chicago Bulls in another winnable game. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. CT.