Player grades from Minnesota Timberwolves preseason win over Mavericks

Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks dribbles the ball against Josh Okogie of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks dribbles the ball against Josh Okogie of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves came back from a double-digit deficit to finish the preseason with an overtime win over the Dallas Mavericks.

79. Final/OT. 129. 86. 127

The Minnesota Timberwolves had a roller coaster of a performance on Thursday night in Dallas, but at the end of the day, they ended the preseason slate of games on a mostly positive note.

The Wolves were without D’Angelo Russell, who sat out due to a sore ankle. With Ricky Rubio the only pure point guard available other than two-way player and rookie Ashton Hagans, head coach Ryan Saunders tried plenty of new lineup combinations with predictably mixed results.

The reason why this game can be chalked up as a positive isn’t that it was a comeback win over a playoff team. It’s preseason; the Dallas Mavericks tried to win the game on a Boban Marjanovic 3-point attempt, after all.

Instead, it was because the starters largely played well against the Mavericks’ starters. A combination of Josh Okogie and Malik Beasley — yes, you read that right — slowed down expected MVP candidate Luka Doncic and held him to 6-of-18 shooting and 0-of-6 from beyond the arc with four turnovers.

The Wolves led by a score of 37-33 at the end of the first quarter, but the Mavs dominated the second frame and used a 7-0 run to take a 68-61 lead at halftime. This was the rare game in which Minnesota was out-shot from deep by an opponent in a half; Dallas was 13-of-24 from 3-point range while the Wolves were only 8-of-20.

The Mavs dominated the third quarter as well, building a lead that reached 15 points by the start of the fourth. The Wolves opened the quarter with an intriguing group of starters Ricky Rubio, Beasley, and Karl-Anthony Towns along with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Anthony Edwards.

It was a long, athletic, and energetic lineup that helped cut into a lead that ballooned to 18 at one point. Towns headed to the bench for good midway through the corner with the Wolves down by seven.

Ultimately, the Wolves used a young, bouncy lineup of Jaylen Nowell, Jarrett Culver, Edwards, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Naz Reid to tie the game and force overtime.

Culver scored the first six points of the overtime period, knocking down a 3-pointer and all three free throws after being fouled on another long-range attempt. Shortly thereafter, he headed to the bench in favor of the rookie Hagans.

Ultimately, the Wolves had a sloppy turnover that led to a final opportunity for the Mavs, and the Marjonovic attempt at the buzzer was wide open and went in and out. Minnesota could have — and probably should have — lost in multiple ways.

But, then again, the win isn’t why Wolves fans can feel good about the preseason finale. The starters and much of the rotation played well against a good team, and that matters.

Minnesota Timberwolves Player Grades

KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS. B+. Karl-Anthony Towns had a solid night. After missing his first couple of long-range attempts, he shot the ball better and played harder than he had in the first two preseason outings. Ultimately, Towns scored 20 points (8-14 FG, 2-6 3P, 2-2 FT) and had seven rebounds and three assists in just 27 minutes. He did turn the ball over four times and committed five personal fouls, but his offensive game looked crisp and he continued his improved stretch of play on defense.. Center. Minnesota Timberwolves

Malik Beasley had a terrible start to the preseason, scuffling through three of the four halves he’d appeared in thus far. On Thursday, however, he turned it around in a big way. Beasley did more than just score efficiently, too. In addition to 18 points (7-13 FG, 3-4 3P, 1-2 FT), he grabbed 11 rebounds and had two assists and a steal. He was also asked to guard Doncic for a stretch in the second half and stepped up to the challenge, pestering Luka into bad shots and frustrating him to the point that he received a technical foul. Additionally, Beasley hit three 3-pointers during the Wolves’ fourth-quarter comeback. If this version of Beasley shows up more often than not than the Wolves will be in a great place.. Wing. Minnesota Timberwolves. MALIK BEASLEY. A

RICKY RUBIO. A-. Ricky Rubio played much better this time out, scoring seven points on 3-of-5 shooting and dishing out four assists to just one turnover in 23 minutes. He had a couple of dazzling assists and scored on a nice backdoor cut and assist from Towns. Rubio was also better defensively in this one than he was on Monday against Memphis.. Point Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves

B. Jake Layman was mostly quiet in this one, although he had a couple of nice drives and finishes at the rim. He also had a chance to guard Doncic for a short stint in the second quarter and it didn’t go all that well.. Foward. Minnesota Timberwolves. JAKE LAYMAN

A-. Josh Okogie was tasked with slowing down Doncic, and he did a great job of it. Strangely, the fickle single-game plus-minus number came in at -29, but that doesn’t come close to telling the story. Okogie often picked up Doncic at three-quarters court, pressuring him and making his night generally uncomfortable. At one point in the second quarter, he stripped the ball from Doncic on back-to-back possessions. He also had a nice pass and a great finish in transition, ultimately finishing with eight points on 3-of-5 shooting. Okogie knocked down a corner 3-pointer and one from straightaway and pitched in two rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal.. Wing. Minnesota Timberwolves. JOSH OKOGIE

A. Jarrett Culver was great, scoring 18 points (5-12 FG, 2-3 3P, 6-6 FT) and putting up four rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks in 27 minutes. He was a team-best +25 and was a huge part of the fourth-quarter comeback. Culver has easily been the most pleasant surprise for the Wolves this preseason with a much smoother jump shot and a newfound confidence that has extended all the way to the free throw line. With Russell’s absence and Rubio playing with the starters, Culver hit the floor in the first wave of subs and helped Edwards initiate offense on the second unit.. Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves. JARRETT CULVER

B. It was a tale of two stints once again for Anthony Edwards. The No. 1 overall pick drained three 3-pointers en route to 11 first-quarter points. He played solid defense, made the right decisions, and looked like he belonged in the NBA. Then, in his next chunk of playing time, Edwards looked wild, forcing shots and generally playing sloppy. Overall on the night, his line was 17 points on 5-of-15 shooting and 3-of-8 from beyond the arc. He also had three rebounds and three assists in 26 minutes.. Wing. Minnesota Timberwolves. ANTHONY EDWARDS

Other Minnesota Timberwolves Players

Juancho Hernangomez started the second half in place of Okogie but didn’t do anything of note in this game except for again looking a step slow defensively and miss a couple of open shots.

Jaylen Nowell saw the court in the second quarter, effectively sliding up in the rotation when Culver took Rubio’s typical spot off the bench that was vacated when Russell didn’t suit up. He played well, scoring 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting and helping key the fourth-quarter comeback. It’s becoming apparent that Nowell should have a chance to see the court with some regularity as the shooting upside is real.

Naz Reid saw time at backup center with veteran Ed Davis receiving a DNP-CD. Reid was uneven but had solid stints, overall scoring 14 points but shooting just 5-of-15 from the floor and missing all four of his 3-point attempts. He also had seven rebounds, three assists, and a pair of blocks.

Jarred Vanderbilt saw some first-half minutes and was great defensively. He also grabbed five rebounds in 15 minutes and while he didn’t do anything offensively, it was. good night for Vando.

Rookie Jaden McDaniels looked solid in his fourth-quarter minutes, and Hollis-Jefferson once again didn’t see the court until the end of the third quarter and once again made a huge difference for the Timberwolves.

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Up Next

The Wolves have the next five days off before playing host to the Detroit Pistons in the season and home opener on Wednesday evening at Target Center.