Minnesota Timberwolves: Player grades from win over Miami Heat

Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves shoots the ball against Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves shoots the ball against Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves played a solid all-around game and surged ahead in the fourth quarter to defeat the Miami Heat.

86. Final. 111. 110. 119

The Minnesota Timberwolves played without Karl-Anthony Towns on Tuesday and Wednesday and were blown out twice.

Towns played on Friday night, and the Wolves were an entirely different team, winning the fourth quarter by a 31-18 margin and defeating the defending Eastern Conference Champion Miami Heat.

The Wolves got off to a slow start as they struggled to slow down Jimmy Butler and what is typically a mediocre Heat offense. But the defense improved mightily as the game went on.

Towns found himself in early foul trouble, and the Wolves’ offense was carried largely by their bench, including D’Angelo Russell and Naz Reid. All things considered, this was a relatively quiet Anthony Edwards game, but there were plenty of other players who picked up the slack.

The Wolves won the second quarter and pulled even by halftime. Towns started the third quarter hot, but Minnesota went through some stretches where they simply couldn’t slow down Miami’s ball-screen action, and the Heat took a five-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

But the final frame was all Wolves, as the home team’s defense swarmed and contested shots all over the floor. Offensively, Towns was unstoppable and the Wolves got just enough from Russell, Ricky Rubio, and Juancho Hernangomez to help Minnesota surge ahead and hang onto the lead.

Towns fouled out with the Wolves up six in the final two minutes but Reid came up with a huge offensive rebound and put-back on the offensive end, followed by a fantastic assist from Edwards to get Vanderbilt a bucket that was essentially the dagger.

Butler struggled in the fourth quarter, clanking jumpers and failing to convert at the rim. Without Jimmy Buckets scoring, the Heat offense sputtered to just 18 points in the fourth, and the Wolves hung on down the stretch.

Minnesota Timberwolves Player Grades vs. Miami Heat

Karl-Anthony Towns was doubled from the get-go in this one, with Miami aggressively bringing a second defender on nearly every catch, regardless of where Towns was on the floor. Towns mostly handled the pressure well, although he was clearly frustrated all night and committed a couple of silly fouls. Ultimately, it led to him only playing 26 minutes, although he still managed to score 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting with five rebounds and five assists. Despite the entire Heat game plan centering on Towns, he still had a significant impact on the game.. Center. Minnesota Timberwolves. KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS. B+

B. Anthony Edwards was not a major part of the Wolves’ offensive game plan in this one, but to the rookie’s credit, he didn’t force anything. Edwards tied for a team-best plus-minus of +19 and put up 12 points, five assists, and four rebounds. He shot 5-of-13 from the field and 2-of-6 from 3-point range in a relatively quiet 30 minutes.. Wing. Minnesota Timberwolves. ANTHONY EDWARDS

D. Jaden McDaniels started the game but found himself in early foul trouble, picking up three before halftime. That meant that he only finished with 16 minutes, putting up just four points and a single rebound. Jarred Vanderbilt and Juancho Hernangomez each spent time at the 4 down the stretch while the rookie watched from the bench.. Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. JADEN MCDANIELS

RICKY RUBIO. A-. Ricky Rubio was great, scoring 17 points (5-10 FG, 2-5 3P, 5-5 FT) and adding four assists, three rebounds, and two steals in 32 minutes. He shared the floor with D’Angelo Russell for long stretches that were largely successful. Rubio was solid defensively and came up with a big steal late while denying a pass to Duncan Robinson. His confidence appears to be high on the offensive end of the floor, and when Rubio is shooting perimeter jumpers with confidence, it puts the entire team in a better spot offensively.. Point Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves

A-. This was Josh Okogie’s third consecutive impressive game. He started again and finished with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting and also put up four rebounds and two assists. Okogie was solid defensively, active in transition, and willing to squeeze the trigger from the perimeter. Outside of a couple of rough turnovers, this was another great game from Okogie.. Wing. Minnesota Timberwolves. JOSH OKOGIE

A-. D’Angelo Russell had a solid game. While it’s odd to look at a box score and see that Russell attempted only eight field goals in 24 minutes of play, he also had five assists and was 3-of-6 on 3-point attempts, including a couple of big buckets down the stretch. Eventually, D’Lo will rejoin the starting lineup, but having him as instant offense off the bench is certainly something of a luxury for Chris Finch.. Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves. D'ANGELO RUSSELL

For as disappointing as Naz Reid was as a starter in place of Towns against Brooklyn and Milwaukee, he was fantastic off the bench against the Heat. Reid scored 16 points (6-12 FG, 0-3 3P, 4-5 FT) and added seven rebounds and two assists in 22 minutes. He clocked in with a +7 plus-minus and had a massive offensive rebound and put-back in the final two minutes after Towns had fouled out. Once again, consistency remains the issue for Naz.. Center. Minnesota Timberwolves. NAZ REID. A

Big. Minnesota Timberwolves. JARRED VANDERBILT. A. Jarred Vanderbilt was completely out of the rotation as recently as a few days ago but found himself on the floor down the stretch of a two-possession game on Friday night. Vando was fantastic, putting up nine points on four shots and grabbing 14 rebounds in only 22 minutes. He was a terror on the glass and on the defensive end of the floor, getting deflections and diving on the floor any chance he had.

Other Notable Minnesota Timberwolves Players

Jordan McLaughlin only played 16 minutes but managed to put up a plus-minus of +19 while only contributing two points and three assists. His minutes were largely matched up with Russell’s, although he had brief stints of controlling the Wolves’ offense as the lone point guard on the floor.

Jake Layman was part of the first wave of subs early in the game but didn’t see the floor again after a five-minute stint that saw him fail to record a single statistic.

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Next up for the Minnesota Timberwolves

The Wolves head out on a four-game West Coast road trip beginning with a 9 p.m. CT tip against the LA Clippers on Sunday.