Player grades from Minnesota Timberwolves’ win at the Phoenix Suns

Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves outplayed the Phoenix Suns in crunch time and came away with an impressive road win.

66. Final. 123. 86. 119

The Minnesota Timberwolves just went toe-to-toe with the No. 2 team in the Western Conference and came away with a clutch victory.

The Wolves trailed by double figures for much of the third quarter and were down eight at the start of the fourth, but the Suns, who came into the game with the sixth-best defensive rating in the league, could not stop Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns.

Edwards dropped a career-high 42 points and Towns had a monster night of his own with 41 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists. Minnesota ran a steady diet of Towns-Edwards pick-and-roll sets but also allowed Edwards the opportunity to create in isolation and Towns to both handle the ball on the perimeter and create in the post.

It was a perfectly blended offense called by head coach Chris Finch, and it kept the Suns off balance throughout the night.

The early stages of the game were all about the Suns making open 3-pointers while the Wolves collapsed the paint in an effort to stop Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton from getting easy baskets, but Phoenix happily accepted the open jumpers.

As the game wore on, however, the Wolves leaned on Josh Okogie to try and slow down Devin Booker and did a better job communicating and scrambling to contest shots. Booker still scored 35 points, but he had five turnovers to only six assists and the Wolves came up with big stops down the stretch.

The Suns dominated the third quarter, but the Wolves bench unit woke up after a slow first half. Jaylen Nowell and Naz Reid were big in the late stages of the third and into the fourth quarter, helping the Wolves chip away.

Then, Towns and Edwards took over, with Juancho Hernangomez playing a major supporting role off the bench, hitting a pair of big threes, grabbing a big rebound, and ultimately throwing down an and-one dunk to seal the game in the closing seconds.

If we were giving out game balls, the obvious recipients are Towns and Edwards. But Finch’s offensive game plan, his rotations, and his late-game management (fouling when up three with under 10 seconds to play, his after-timeout in-bounds play for the Hernangomez dunk) earn him a ball as well.

Minnesota Timberwolves Player Grades at Phoenix Suns

Center. Minnesota Timberwolves. KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS. A+. Karl-Anthony Towns had a phenomenal game. After a recent 3-point shooting swoon, Towns shot a sizzling 5-of-7 from deep as part of a 15-for-24 shooting night en route to 41 points. He also had the biggest rebound of the game, snatching a missed Dario Saric free throw with 5.9 seconds left. His final line of 41 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists will be somewhat lost in the shuffle after Anthony Edwards’ night, but it shouldn’t be glossed over.

Minnesota Timberwolves. ANTHONY EDWARDS. A. Anthony Edwards is a monster. An absolute monster. Finally, he’s starting to get the foul calls he deserves at the rim, and if that becomes a theme … we’re looking at some huge scoring numbers moving forward. Edwards is simply unstoppable when headed downhill, and the Suns wanted nothing to do with him in the paint. He finished with a career-high 42 points (15-31 FG, 4-13 3P, 8-13 FT), seven rebounds, three assists, and two steals. He only had two turnovers and had a +9 in the plus-minus column. Edwards actually started 4-of-6 from 3-point range and missed his finally seven threes — <em>and </em>he missed five free throws. Turns out, when. you shoot nearly 50 percent from the floor and score 42 points, those things are easy to forget.. Wing

B-. After a big game last time out, Ricky Rubio was quiet against his former team. He had just six points on 1-of-5 shooting and had only five assists, although he did pitch in three steals. Rubio only played 29 minutes despite being the lone point guard on the roster, mostly due to the effectiveness of the Edwards-Jaylen Nowell backcourt pairing. Still, Rubio’s steady hand was helpful down the stretch as the Wolves held on.. Point Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves. RICKY RUBIO

JAKE LAYMAN. B. Jake Layman started again but played only 22 minutes as Finch opted for the defense of Josh Okogie down the stretch. Layman’s line featured twos almost across the board: points, assists, rebounds, steals, and turnovers. He also attempted only two shots, making one.. Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves

Jarred Vanderbilt started again but played only eight minutes, his fewest since Feb. 12 against Charlotte, back when Ryan Saunders was still coaching. This just wasn’t the best matchup for Vando, and the Wolves needed the floor-spacing and solid play that the best version of Juancho Hernangomez can provide.. Big. Minnesota Timberwolves. JARRED VANDERBILT. C

JUANCHO HERNANGOMEZ. A. Don’t look now, but Juancho Hernangomez was the Wolves’ third-leading scorer in this one. Hernangomez had 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including hitting his final two 3-point attempts of the game. He also grabbed a clutch rebound and had the dunk that put the Wolves up four in the closing seconds. This version of Hernangomez is worth the $6.5 million he’s being paid. (This version is also worth something on the trade market, too…). Foward. Minnesota Timberwolves

C+. Jaylen Nowell had a quiet first half, but came alive as the Wolves began to chip away late in the third quarter. He finished wish just six points on 3-of-8 shooting but missed all three of his long-range attempts and appeared to leave the game with something of an injury at one point in the fourth quarter.. Wing. Minnesota Timberwolves. JAYLEN NOWELL

A. Naz Reid had a quiet but effective 10 points and four rebounds, shooting 3-of-5 from the field and 4-of-5 from the free throw line. He played a few minutes at power forward alongside Towns but finished with only 15 minutes played on the night.. Center. Minnesota Timberwolves. NAZ REID

Josh Okogie played 22 minutes but barely dented the stat sheet. He was 0-for-1 shooting, didn’t score, and had exactly one rebound, assist, and steal. And for good measure, he was a +1 on the night as well. But his defense, namely on Booker, was fantastic.. Wing. Minnesota Timberwolves. JOSH OKOGIE. B+

Foward. Minnesota Timberwolves. JADEN MCDANIELS. B. Jaden McDaniels played 27 minutes in this one and was on the court for much of the Wolves’ success in the middle parts of the game, but wasn’t out there late in the fourth quarter. He was awesome defensively and finished as a +8 for the game, but didn’t do much on offense. The rookie big man finished with two points on 1-of-5 shooting and missed all three 3-pointers and both free throws he attempted. He did, however, pitch in with four rebounds, two steals, two assists and a block.

The rotation will get that much more interesting when Malik Beasley and D’Angelo Russell both return by the end of the month. Finch will have some challenging decisions to make, to say the least.

Next. It's time for the Wolves to choose their path. dark

Up next for the Minnesota Timberwolves

The Wolves stay put in Phoenix and take on the Suns on Friday night. That game also tips at 9 p.m. CT, and we’ll have pre- and postgame coverage right here at DWW.