Minnesota Timberwolves: Player grades from loss to the Indiana Pacers

Minnesota Timberwolves' star Karl-Anthony Towns. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Timberwolves' star Karl-Anthony Towns. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves fell behind by 21 points to a short-handed Indiana Pacers team but came back to make things interesting before falling short.

Final. 137. 86. 141. 100

The Minnesota Timberwolves came into this game with a legitimate chance to notch their first two-game winning streak since the opening games of the season, way back in late December.

Instead, an Indiana Pacers team unable to field a single starter from their opening night lineup was able to build a massive lead and hang on down the stretch as the Wolves failed to put up anything resembling resistance on defense.

Things didn’t get ugly until the second quarter, but midway through the frame is when the Pacers began to get whatever they wanted offensively against Minnesota’s bench. Karl-Anthony Towns was in some light foul trouble, and the reserve unit anchored by Naz Reid simply didn’t play up to snuff.

The microcosm of the night came when the Wolves had a chance to effectively take the last shot, running the clock down and leave only a few spare seconds for the Pacers at the end of the half. Instead, Jaden McDaniels made an ill-advised pass and Indiana ended up with the final possession, scoring with just 0.5 seconds on the clock and giving Indiana a 21-point halftime lead.

The Wolves started to chip away in the third quarter, however, with Towns dominating and the Wolves mostly going toe-to-toe with the Pacers from beyond the arc.

Minnesota got things back to with 15 at the start of the final frame. Anthony Edwards, who had been quiet for much of the night, suddenly came to life with nine consecutive points en route to 17 in the fourth quarter.

The Wolves managed to pull within six points on an Edwards and-one with just over five minutes to play. From that point forward, however, the Wolves and Pacers essentially traded baskets. Minnesota did get within three with 50 seconds to play on an old-fashioned 3-point play from D’Angelo Russell, but the Pacers got a shot clock-beating corner three from T.J. McConnell to stretch the lead to six and effectively end the game.

Falling behind by 20-plus against a Pacers team missing Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner, Jeremy Lamb, and Malcolm Brogdon is obviously unacceptable. The silver lining here, of course, is the feverish second-half comeback.

However, they dug themselves far too big of a hole to have any realistic chance of crawling out and emerging with a victory.

Minnesota Timberwolves Player Grades at Indiana Pacers

Karl-Anthony Towns was fantastic once again, dropping 32 points on 12-of-17 shooting and grabbing 12 rebounds. He also dished out six assists and was solid defensively, despite the 141 points that the Wolves gave up as a team. Towns himself was fine, generally in the right spot, deterring shots at the rim, and rebounding his position as the Wolves actually won the battle on the glass. Towns was a team-best +9 in a game that Minnesota lost by four.. Center. Minnesota Timberwolves. KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS. A

B. This was a weird Anthony Edwards game. Seventeen of his 27 points came in the fourth quarter, and he shot 11-of-21 on the night and 2-of-5 from beyond the arc. He was relatively quiet prior to the final frame, yet was largely given the keys to the offense down the stretch with Russell and Rubio playing many possessions off the ball. Edwards also pitched in five rebounds and three assists and only committed two turnovers.. Wing. Minnesota Timberwolves. ANTHONY EDWARDS

Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. JADEN MCDANIELS. B-. This was not a great Jaden McDaniels game. The usually solid defender struggled to contain on that end of the floor and only got five shots up in 37 minutes on offense. He also committed three turnovers, including the hideous one to close the first half, and committed three fouls. Still, he was a +3 in this one, which only underscores just how poorly the bench played as a unit.

B. Ricky Rubio started again with Russell on a minutes restriction. He was generally solid, ending up with 17 points (4-11 FG, 1-3 3P, 8-9 FT), seven assists, five rebounds, and three steals. The jumper didn’t look great and the Pacers were leaving him open, but Rubio was pump-faking and driving seams with regularity and confidence. Defense was an issue, but again, Rubio wasn’t the only one we can say that about.. Point Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves. RICKY RUBIO

Minnesota Timberwolves. JAKE LAYMAN. B. With Josh Okogie scratched for personal reasons, Jake Layman received the start. He only played 16 minutes and was the odd man out when Russell joined the crunchtime lineup, but Layman was productive when on the court: nine points on 3-of-5 shooting with two rebounds and an assist.. Forward

B+. Naz Reid was again massively productive on offense in abbreviated playing time: 16 points in just 15 minutes. He was 5-of-6 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free throw line and pulled down five rebounds. However, Reid scuffled defensively, getting caught in the wash in ball-screen action and failing to provide any resistance in the paint. Of course, the Wolves perimeter players deserve plenty of blame for the defensive issues, but Reid didn’t help cover for them in the slightest.. Center. Minnesota Timberwolves. NAZ REID

C. Jordan McLaughlin was bad defensively and quiet on offense, finishing with just two points on four shots in 20 minutes. His minutes on the floor with another point guard weren’t effective, regardless of whether it was Russell or Rubio.. Point Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves. JORDAN MCLAUGHLIN

Other Notable Minnesota Timberwolves Players

Jarrett Culver had a decent performance, putting up eight points, three rebounds, and two assists in 18 minutes, even making a 3-pointer and shooting 3-of-5 from the field. It was a needed blip of hope on the radar for last year’s struggling No. 6 overall pick.

Juancho Hernangomez only saw 10 minutes of playing time after a big performance in Monday’s win. He didn’t have a field goal attempt and finished with one point and two rebounds.

Next. On Anthony Edwards' Rookie of the Year candidacy. dark

Next up for the Minnesota Timberwolves

Things aren’t getting any easier for the Wolves as they head east to Boston to take on the Celtics on Friday night.