Minnesota Timberwolves: Wolf of the Week, Part Seven

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jaylen Nowell has had a standout week for the Wolves. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jaylen Nowell has had a standout week for the Wolves. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves finished their third consecutive week with a 1-3 record as they continue to look ahead to Karl-Anthony Towns’ return.

Another week, another heartbreaking loss for the Wolves — actually, there were two of them this time around.

The Wolves started the week with the second game of the back-to-back against the Cleveland Cavaliers and it was a tough one to swallow. The two-point loss split the two-game series 1-1. On Wednesday, the Wolves traveled to San Antonio and suffered what was quite possibly their worst loss of the year, and there have been plenty. Then, they ended the week in Oklahoma City, where they split another two-game set.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Wolf of the Week, Part Seven

Timberwolves drop Game Two of back-to-back games to the Cavaliers

Cleveland Cavaliers 100, Minnesota Timberwolves 98

The Timberwolves traveled to Cleveland after winning the first game of the two-game set in Minnesota.

The Wolves failed to have a player eclipse the 20-point mark in this one. D’Angelo Russell was closest, finishing with 18 points on 7-of-19 shooting to go along with four assists, two rebounds, and a steal.

No one on the Wolves played particularly well on the offensive side of the ball, but they were able to limit the Cavs to 100 points which should be enough for this team to win games. Alas, that was not to be the case in this one.

One thing that has been nice to see is the Timberwolves’ bench unit playing above expectations and that’s thanks to the 4 J’s: Jarred Vanderbilt, Jaden McDaniels, Jaylen Nowell, and Jake Layman have provided quality minutes for the Wolves as of late as part of a unit ran by Ricky Rubio.

Nowell has shown that he has the ability to be solid scoring guard for the Wolves off the bench; he finished this game with 12 points, four rebounds, and an assist.

Still, the Wolves couldn’t find a way to win this one in the fourth quarter and fell by two to the Cavaliers.

Timberwolves blow 16-point lead in fourth quarter to lose to the Spurs

San Antonio Spurs 111, Minnesota Timberwolves 108

This one hurt more than any other. The Wolves played a great 40 minutes, but the final stages of the game were the exact opposite.

Malik Beasley was the version Malik Beasley we have seen for much of the year as he finished with 29 points on 12-of-18 shooting to go along with six rebounds, one assist, and a steal. The problem late in this one was the Timberwolves simply couldn’t get him the ball.

D’Angelo Russell called his own number plenty down the stretch, and far too often that was to the Wolves’ detriment. Edwards and Beasley both had good shooting nights, but the end of the game was an endless stream of Russell and Naz Reid pick-and-rolls.

It didn’t work, and the Spurs ended the game on a 30-11 run and beat the Timberwolves by a final margin of 111-108.

Timberwolves beat OKC Thunder on a late shot from D’Angelo Russell

Minnesota Timberwolves 106, Oklahoma City Thunder 103

This game was way closer than it should have been, as the Thunder only had eight active players due to various injuries and COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

The Wolves’ starting unit did not play their best game of the year but eventually got the job done. But once again, it was primarily the Four J’s and Rubio that kept the Wolves in this one.

Everyone in the second unit for the Wolves finished with plus minutes. The leader of that group? Jaylen Nowell.  He has been the Wolves scoring spark off the bench and continues to fight for a permanent spot in the rotation. Jaylen finished with 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting and 2-of-5 from beyond the arc.

Beasley also had another strong game with 24 points, five rebounds, three assists, and a steal.

The one real dud for the Timberwolves in this one was Josh Okogie. He started but had an awful first stint and finished with only nine minutes played.

Timberwolves can’t complete late comeback, lose to OKC Thunder

Oklahoma City Thunder 120, Minnesota Timberwolves 118

The Timberwolves gave up 83 points in the first half but showed heart in the second half of this one, fighting all the way back and giving themselves a chance to win.

Naz Reid led the push for the Wolves in the second half and finished with 29 points, six rebounds, and two steals. Anthony Edwards also had a good game with 20 points, eight rebounds, four assists, a steal, and zero turnovers.

Nowell continued his week of scoring, ending up with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting and 3-of-5 from deep.

This game was another example of the Timberwolves’ inability to guard the pick-and-roll. Hopefully, Towns’ return will have a positive impact in that area.

Wolf of the Week: Jaylen Nowell

Jaylen Nowell averaged 12.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, 0.3 assists, and 0.3 steals per game over the course of the week.

If those numbers don’t jump off the page, consider that he shot 47 percent from the field, 50 percent from deep, and 75 percent from the line while coming off the bench and providing a sorely-needed scoring punch.

The second-year player out of the University of Washington has certainly proven to be a valuable scoring asset for the Wolves off the bench. As Okogie’s struggles continue, you will see those minutes for Nowell continue to grow. Jaylen will continue to grow alongside Rubio, McDaniels, and Vanderbilt going forward.

Next. Examining key issues with the Wolves' offense. dark

Of course, the Wolves need their leader in Karl-Anthony Towns back badly, but Jaylen Nowell has been a clear bright spot for them as of late.