The Minnesota Timberwolves went 1-3 last week and saw their overall record fall to 4-11 on the season, but one of their big men had a strong few days.
This was a tough week for Minnesota Timberwolves fans overall, but thankfully, it ended with a win.
The Wolves started the week with a competitive matinee performance against the injury-struck Atlanta Hawks, but Minnesota simply couldn’t claw back in the fourth quarter. Then, the Wolves followed with a three-game homestand during which they won one out of the three games.
Overall, it was another tough week, and if Andrew Wiggins continues to play like Maple Jordan, things could only get worse.
Timberwolves drop matinee against injury-plagued Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta Hawks 108, Minnesota Timberwolves 97
If you enjoy bad mid-day basketball, this game was for you.
Coming into this game, the Hawks had won only one of their last seven games. The Timberwolves had their own, well-documented struggles. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Wolves and Hawks combined for a total of 42 turnovers in a game that was sloppy from start to finish.
D’Angelo Russell played one of his best games of the year, finishing with 31 points, seven assists, four steals, and three rebounds while shoooting 11-for-22 from the field and 6-for-13 from deep. He wasn’t the problem; the Wolves shot 39 percent from the field as a team.
Both Beasley and Edwards had poor shooting, performances combining to hit on only 10 of 33 shot attempts. Jarred Vanderbilt continues to be a bright spot for the Wolves, giving them energy on defense and rebounding at a high clip. He finished with eight points, eight rebounds, three assists, three steals, and a block.
The Wolves hung around and managed to cut the lead down to six with two minutes remaining but couldn’t make the full comeback and ultimately lost by 11.
Cole Anthony buzzer-beater completes Magic comeback over Timberwolves
Orlando Magic 97, Minnesota Timberwolves 96
Wow, did this one hurt. The Wolves were up by 20 points in the third quarter and by a 91-81 margin with three minutes remaining. That equaled a win probability of 98.1 percent, according to ESPN’s Gamecast.
To completion of the comeback was, of course, the hardest part. Orlando’s Aaron Gordon missed a wide-open 3-point attempt with the Magic down by two points. Vanderbilt grabbed the rebound and was fouled by Cole Anthony but then proceeded to miss both free throws. Anthony grabbed the rebound and sprinted to the 3-point line, where he splashed home a partially-contested 3-pointer to cap off a heartbreaking loss for the Wolves.
The thing that hurt the most in this game was that there was a lot of good from the Timberwolves for much of the game. Their defense, for one, was the best it has looked all season.
Let’s also not forget the coming-out party of Jaden McDaniels. The rookie out of Washington certainly looks raw, but the skill-set undeniable; he finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, three blocks, and a team best plus-minus of +19.
Despite some shortcomings on the glass, Naz Reid also continues to show he is more than capable of helping the Wolves in Karl-Anthony Towns’ absence on the offensive end, putting up 14 points to go with three rebounds and three blocks.
Hawks star Trae Young drops 43 in easy win over the Timberwolves
Atlanta Hawks 116, Minnesota Timberwolves 98
This game showcased one of the worst efforts of the year from the Timberwolves.
No one played particularly well on either side, actually, save for Trae Young and Clint Capela. Malik Beasley was the leading scorer for the Wolves with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting, also adding four assists and two steals. Jarrett Culver was the Wolves’ second-leading scorer with 15 points on 6-of-16 shooting with two assists and a block.
The Timberwolves simply looked like they didn’t want to be there. Rookie Anthony Edwards‘ struggles continued; he didn’t see a shot go through the net until the fourth quarter and finished with five points on 2-for-12 shooting. Edwards noted after the game that he feels like he hasn’t been getting the foul calls when he goes to the rim, and it certainly seems as though he has an argument to make.
The Wolves were down by a score of 92-67 going into the fourth quarter before the Hawks let off the gas a bit. The Wolves ultimately lost by 18 points in a game that was never really close.
Timberwolves outlast the New Orleans Pelicans in a totel team victory
Minnesota Timberwolves 120, New Orleans Pelicans 110
Without Towns and Russell, all odds pointed against the Timberwolves pulling out a win, but instead, they scored a solid, all-around team victory.
Nobody in a Timberwolves jersey played particularly poorly in this game. The Wolves frontcourt, keyed by Reid and Vanderbilt, played very well and didn’t let Zion Williamson or Steven Adams get going.
Vanderbilt recorded his second double-double of the season, finishing with 16 points, 11 rebounds, two steals, and a block. Naz Reid finished with 20 points, four rebounds, two assists, and a block. Naz also had a pair of clutch free throws down the stretch and was 8-for-8 from the line.
Jarrett Culver continued his strong week with 16 points, five rebounds, and a steal while shooting 6-of-9 from the field and 2-of-4 from deep. The Wolves needed a win badly, and it was a total team effort to get there, and without their two best players.
Wolf of the Week: Naz Reid
Naz Reid averaged 14 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, 1.5 assists, and 0.8 steals per game in Towns’ absence over the past four games.
Reid shot 58 percent from the field, 50 percent from beyond the arc, and a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line. Naz has shown he is more than capable to stretch the floor and provide meaningful minutes during Towns’ absence.
Coming into this week Saunders had him coming off the bench to help him avoid foul trouble, but he started every game this week and definitely made the most of it.
Still, Reid must improve his rebounding rate. In fact, Monday’s loss to Golden State was the first game in which Naz eclipsed the double-digit rebound mark in a single game this season.
Once Towns returns, Reid will be a major part of the bench rotation once again, and it’s vital that he retains the scoring punch that he’s brought to the lineup in the absence of the Wolves’ best player.