With Week Two in the books for the Minnesota Timberwolves, it’s clear that there is still a long way to go for this team to take the next step.
Welcome back to the new weekly column, Wolf of the Week. Each week, we’ll take a quick look at the Minnesota Timberwolves‘ past week and highlight a player that stood out.
The last week began out in Los Angeles and ended with a brief, two-game homestand. Put simply, the Timberwolves did not look good during their trip to Los Angeles at the start of last week. Karl-Anthony Towns being out certainly didn’t help their case, but getting blown out by the winless Wizards is just inexcusable.
Here is the week’s recap followed by the second Wolf of the Week.
Minnesota Timberwolves lose badly to the Khawi-less LA Clippers
LA Clippers 124, Minnesota Timberwolves 101
The Timberwolves followed their road loss to the Lakers with a loss to the Clippers, going 0-2 in 48 hours at Staples Center.
Even without Khawi Leonard, the Clippers are an above-average team and the Timberwolves, without Towns, are not.
The Wolves needed D’Angelo Russell to step up in Towns absence and was not able to do that. Russell had a team-worst plus-minus of -26 in 31 minutes, shooting 9-for-19 with 22 points, four assists, three rebounds, and two steals. That’s a nice stat line, but Russell and the Wolves have not been efficient while he is on the court.
Ricky Rubio had his best game of the season with 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting with five assists and one steal.
The Wolves hung with the Clippers in the first quarter, but they went on a run to end the first quarter and the Wolves never recovered, trailing by 30-plus for a solid chunk of the game.
Jarred Vanderbilt had a good showing during garbage time, proving he could be a viable option for the Timberwolves at power forward.
Minnesota Timberwolves get blown out by Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards 130, Minnesota Timberwolves 109
In a game that felt like a must-win for the Timberwolves to righten the ship, they laid an egg.
The Wolves did not have the lead for a single second in this game. There were not many bright spots for the Wolves, and once again, Russell did not play well. He was a team-worst -32, which simply can’t happen against a winless team.
Malik Beasley scored a team-high 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting with three rebounds. Jake Layman also played his best game of the year with 12 points with three steals, one assist, and a rebound. Naz Reid also played well, exploiting the Wizards’ poor interior defense while putting up 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting with six rebounds, two blocks, an assist, and a steal. Although Naz is not a defensive force he has proved much value offensively.
Towns and Josh Okogie not playing due to injury is not an excuse for this horrible loss from the Wolves. The team showed little fight, and nobody stepped up to stop the bleeding when things began getting out of hand.
Minnesota Wolves crumble in fourth-quarter, lose to Denver Nuggets
Denver Nuggets 124, Minnesota Timberwolves 109
This was a game that the Timberwolves desperately wanted to win after three straight blowout losses, but they couldn’t hang close with the Nuggets in the fourth quarter.
The big surprise pregame was the starting lineup, which featured Juancho Hernangomez and Ed Davis for the first time this season. While Juancho played better, as his struggles continue you have to wonder when it will be time to give Vanderbilt or even rookie Jaden McDaniels more playing time.
Malik Beasley’s revenge tour was bittersweet as he finished with 25 points, seven rebounds, five assists, two blocks, and a steal and was the driving force for the Timberwolves all night. Jarrett Culver also had a much-needed bounce-back game, finishing with 20 points, six rebounds, and three steals.
It will be interesting to see how the Wolves come out on Tuesday in their second consecutive game against the Nuggets, but hey — at least this game was competitive for three quarters!
Wolf of the Week: Malik Beasley
The choice was relatively easy when it came to the Wolf of the Week. Beasley simply outplayed everyone.
The Timberwolves signed Beasley to a four-year, $60 million dollar deal and it’s looking like he may be worth every penny. The week he averaged 21.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.7 assists, all while shooting 51 percent from the field, 42 percent from 3-point range, and 91 percent from the free throw line.
Although it may have been his revenge tour giving him extra motivation against the Nuggets, he played better than everyone else on the Wolves roster this week and it wasn’t close. Malik was one of the few bright spots for the Wolves during a very poor week of basketball.