Player grades from Minnesota Timberwolves’ win over the Houston Rockets

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

The Minnesota Timberwolves went on a 22-0 run in a stunning comeback win over the Houston Rockets on Friday night at Target Center.

86. Final. 101. 169. 107

The Minnesota Timberwolves should have entered the weekend expecting to win both games of a home back-to-back set against the Houston Rockets, who have lost 21 of 22 games and recently ended an insane 20-game losing streak.

Unfortunately, that expectation was clear for much of the first three-and-a-half quarters. After taking a four-point lead at the end of the first quarter, the Wolves gave it all back and then some in the middle stages of the game.

Karl-Anthony Towns dropped 13 in the first quarter but scored a total of three points over the second and third frames. The Wolves stopped trying defensively in the second and carried the bad habits through halftime, finding themselves in a 16-point second-half hole.

But midway through the fourth quarter, John Wall, who had 15 assists through the first three quarters, had zero in the fourth and committed a pair of costly turnovers, including dribbling the ball off his own knee, down two points with 18.4 seconds left.

Ultimately, it was a 22-0 Wolves run from the 7:31 mark through the end of the game. The Wolves did a great job running everything through Towns, but the end of this game was far more about a Rockets collapse than anything the Wolves did notably well.

Still, a win is a win is a win, and the Wolves and Rockets will be back at it again on Saturday night. Same time, same place.

Minnesota Timberwolves Player Grades vs. Houston Rockets

A-. The Rockets were the first team in a long time that attempted to slow down Karl-Anthony Towns with largely single coverage. It hurt them early, as Towns dropped 13 points in the first quarter as the Wolves built a seven-point lead. But as the game wore on, Towns grew increasingly frustrated with a lack of foul calls and shot a horrible percentage in the paint. Still, he was huge down the stretch and finished with 29 points (9-26 FG, 4-9 3P, 7-8 FT), 16 points, and eight assists, and if he wasn’t on the floor, the Wolves would have been blown out by a bad Rockets team.. Center. Minnesota Timberwolves. KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS

D. Anthony Edwards struggled all night. He finished with 12 points and shot just 4-of-17 from the field and 2-of-7 from beyond the arc. Edwards was a team-worst -12 and was pulled from the game right before the Wolves began their run. He was content to settle for jumpers and more than once dribbled into a mid-range jumper in an isolation situation instead of attacking the rim. Once again, the officials weren’t kind to Edwards, but the effort and shot selection were poor nonetheless.. Wing. Minnesota Timberwolves. ANTHONY EDWARDS

This was one of Ricky Rubio’s worst offensive performances in a while. He shot just 0-for-7 from the field and 0-for-3 from beyond the arc and missed an open layup attempt at the front of the rim with 24 seconds left in the game that would have stretched the lead to four. Thankfully for Rubio and the Wolves, John Wall turned the ball over immediately. Rubio had two points, eight assists, three rebounds, two steals, and only one turnover on the night.. Point Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves. RICKY RUBIO. C+

B-. Jarred Vanderbilt started again, this time at the 4 alongside Jaden McDaniels at the 3. He played only 15 minutes, which was the lowest among Wolves players who saw the floor. Vando had five points on 2-of-5 shooting and pitched in three rebounds.. Big. Minnesota Timberwolves. JARRED VANDERBILT

A. Jaden McDaniels started at the 3 and was phenomenal. He was on the floor to close the game alongside Juancho Hernangomez at the 4, finishing with 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting including 2-of-2 from beyond the arc. The rookie also had four rebounds and two blocks and was a +9 in the plus-minus column. It was one of his better performances since Chris Finch took over as coach, and his offensive game really seems to be expanding as he gets more comfortable with the NBA game.. Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. JADEN MCDANIELS

Foward. Minnesota Timberwolves. JUANCHO HERNANGOMEZ. A. Believe it or not, Hernangomez was the Wolves’ second-leading scorer in the game. He scored 19 points (7-10 FG, 2-5 3P, 3-4 FT), nine rebounds, two steals, and an assist with zero turnovers. His plus-minus was a team-best +19 and he was a major part of Minnesota’s late fourth-quarter comeback. It’ll be interesting to see if he continues to come off the bench moving forward or if he’ll eventually find himself in the starting lineup.

A-. Naz Reid torched the Rockets, scoring 16 points in 17 minutes off the bench. Reid somehow squeezed the trigger 14 times in those 17 minutes, also adding two rebounds, two assists, and two steals. The Wolves bench unit as a whole wasn’t all too impressive, but Reid was the only thing keeping the Wolves within shouting distance with his effectiveness around the rim.. Center. Minnesota Timberwolves. NAZ REID

Minnesota Timberwolves. JAYLEN NOWELL. B-. Jaylen Nowell struggled in this one, shooting only 4-of-14 from the field and 0-for-6 from outside the arc. He did pitch in five assists, five rebounds, and three steals with zero turnovers. The assist numbers are interesting as he played most of his minutes alongside Jordan McLaughlin and was no longer the de facto backup point guard, but it was encouraging to see Nowell able to contribute in other, non-scoring columns even when having an off-night with his shot.. Wing

Point Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves. JORDAN MCLAUGHLIN. B-. Jordan McLaughlin made his first post-All-Star break appearance after clearing health and safety protocols, and the rust showed. He air-balled a pair of shots and finished 1-of-5 from the field while scoring only two points, but he did add four assists, two rebounds, and two steals.

Other Notable Minnesota Timberwolves Players

That’s it! Chris Finch only used a nine-man rotation, and both Jake Layman and Jarrett Culver were healthy DNP-CDs.

Malik Beasley is eligible to return on Saturday, so we’ll see another change in the rotation in just 24 hours.

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Next up for the Minnesota Timberwolves

The Wolves and Rockets are back at it again on Saturday night. Get pumped for Battle of the NBA’s Worst Teams, Part II!