The Minnesota Timberwolves fell once again, losing by 18 points to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.
After playing competitive games the last two times out, the Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t manage to even make it close against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.
The Wolves have now lost 11 of their past 12 games, and things aren’t close to getting back on track. Despite the return of Ricky Rubio, Juancho Hernangomez and Karl-Anthony Towns remained out and Ryan Saunders’ squad simply didn’t put forth enough effort in this one.
The Atlanta Hawks were able to get what they wanted, when they wanted it on offense, with Trae Young reaching the 40-point plateau before the end of the third quarter. Clint Capela put up a triple-double, with 13 points, 19 rebounds, and 10 blocks, controlling the paint from the opening tap to his exit with the game well in-hand in the fourth quarter.
To make matters worse, the Wolves’ offense sans-Towns was entirely punchless. Minnesota failed to score 100 points for the fourth time in the last five games. When your defense is also a bottom-five unit, that isn’t exactly a recipe to earn any wins.
The Wolves trailed by six points at the end of the first quarter but were entirely dominated in the second frame. They were down by 19 at halftime never got closer than 13 points in the second half; garbage time began before the third quarter was even over.
Let’s take a look at some individual player grades from the game.
Minnesota Timberwolves Player Grades
D’Angelo Russell struggled, save for a brief hot period in the second quarter. He finished with just nine points and four assists and played only 21 minutes, shooting 2-of-9 from the field and 1-of-5 from 3-point range. He couldn’t get his teammates involved and was clearly focused on finding his own shot in this one. When that didn’t fall, it was a recipe for a disaster of a night for the Wolves.
Malik Beasley was the best player on the floor for the Wolves offensively, and it wasn’t close. He led the team with 17 points (7-11 FG, 2-5 3P, 1-1 FT) and chipped in four assists, two steals and a rebound. Beasley was bad defensively, neglecting to pick up the proper man in transition and exhibiting a clear lack of urgency, but he was the only Wolves player to show any real life or efficiency on offense.
Naz Reid was the Wolves’ best player this side of Beasley, putting up 13 points and eight rebounds — practically a Moses Malone-eque game out of him given his aversion to hitting the glass over the past few games. Reid shot 6-of-7 from the field and racked up four blocks, but ultimately only played 25 minutes and simply couldn’t do enough to combat Clint Capela and Co.
Jarred Vanderbilt was his typically active self and played okay overall, although he had some defensive lapses and bad misses at the rim. He finished with 10 points, four rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block and shot 5-of-10 from the floor. He continues to show that he’s worthy of rotation minutes at the NBA level, but simply can’t make enough of a difference for a Wolves team that is devoid of true star talent at the moment.
Josh Okogie had a quiet game, playing just 19 minutes and adding only three points, a rebound, an assist, and two steals to the box score. He didn’t defend Young nearly as well as he did on Monday, but he didn’t have much help from his teammates, either.
Anthony Edwards had yet another awful game, shooting just 2-of-12 from the floor. He missed his first 10 shots but scored a quick five points in garbage time; hopefully, that will jump-start his confidence and shooting stroke ahead of Saturday night’s game. The rookie’s final line was five points, three rebounds, an assist, and a steal, but the 2-for-12 shooting and 1-of-5 from beyond the arc are what stand out;.
Jaden McDaniels played well on Wednesday against Orlando and earned rotation minutes with both Towns and Hernangomez still sidelined. He didn’t play nearly as well this time out, however, struggling mightily on both ends of the floor. McDaniels finished with four points on 2-of-9 shooting with five rebounds and a single block in 23 minutes. He still struggles with decision-making on offense and proper positioning defensively, although the talent is obvious and the length and athleticism are tantalizing.
Jarrett Culver had another decent game. His 13 points and five rebounds off the bench were nice, but it was his defensive effort that stood out in this one. Culver continues to struggle with his jumper, but of a 6-of-13 shooting line is more than acceptable, even if it includes a 1-for-5 from beyond the arc. This was the second consecutive solid game from Culver after two straight weeks of poor play.
Other Minnesota Timberwolves Players
Rubio made his return after missing the past two games and had a strong first-half stint before struggling along with the rest of his teammates in the third quarter. He finished with four points (2-6 FG, 0-2 3P, 0-1 FT), five assists, four rebounds, and three steals.
Jordan McLaughlin saw limited first-half run and played the entire fourth quarter, finishing with two points, five assists, three rebounds, and a steal. He played hard, per usual, and it will be interesting to see if the Wolves continue to try and give minutes to all three of Russell, Rubio, and McLaughlin.
Jaylen Nowell played three first-half minutes and all of garbage time and finished with an impeccable 4-of-4 shooting night and nine points, two rebounds, and a steal. There is no reason that he shouldn’t be receiving more run moving forward.
Jake Layman played for the first time in nearly two weeks and had seven points, a rebound, an assist, and a steal. He appears to be out of the rotation for the time being, but who knows at this point with the team’s extreme struggles.
Ed Davis played only six first-half minutes, playing predictably solid defense and also struggling to convert baskets in the paint. So, par for the course for Ed. He also picked up a technical foul.