Minnesota Timberwolves: Player grades from win over Utah Jazz

(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves closed strong and defeated the Utah Jazz on the road.

118. 101. 86. Final. 96

The Minnesota Timberwolves have won the season series against the team with the best record in the NBA.

The Wolves and Jazz will face off again at Target Center on Monday, but Minnesota has already won both match-ups at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City and clinched the three-game season series.

Things didn’t start out all too impressively for the Wolves, but they won the final three quarters and held on down the stretch to pull out the win.

Indeed, the first quarter was identical to basically every first quarter the Wolves have played in recent memory: decent offense and horrible, porous defense.

The Timberwolves gave up 40 in the first, including a barrage of mostly-open 3-pointers. Karl-Anthony Towns was the only glimmer of hope on offense, putting up eight points and grabbing four rebounds in the opening frame.

The Wolves were down 40-26 after the first quarter, and the Jazz extended their lead to 17 early in the second. But Minnesota’s second unit played extremely well defensively, and the Wolves crept back into the game.

After 10 made threes in the opening frame, Utah only made one 3-pointer in the second while D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards keyed the offense for the visitors. At halftime, Russell has 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting and Edwards finished strong to have 10 points at the break.

Minnesota was down by six at halftime but came out of the locker room ready to go in the third quarter. Defensively, they continued what they started in the second, and the offense started to play with some efficiency.

The Wolves were able to run the Jazz off the 3-point line and provided strong help defense on attacks from Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, and others. As easy as things were for the Jazz early in the game, they were that much more difficult as the game wore on.

Minnesota built a nine-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but the Jazz pushed back and took a brief lead with 3:41 left on the clock. From that point, forward, however, it was all Wolves.

Towns made a tough shot to put the Wolves back on top. Then, Russell shook Bogdanovic in space and knocked down a jumper from just beyond the free throw line. The Wolves were able to get a couple of additional shots, and Towns and Josh Okogie made enough free throws down the stretch to ice the game for the Wolves.

After trailing by 14 following the first quarter, the Wolves won the final three frames by a 75-56 margin. The defense was active and the offense did just enough to win — a fantastic all-around performance from Chris Finch’s crew.

Minnesota Timberwolves Player Grades at Utah Jazz

Karl-Anthony Towns had his work cut out for him against Rudy Gobert, but he was solid defensively in this one with Gobert on the floor and dominated the minutes when Rudy was on the bench. Towns finished with 24 points (9-18 FG, 2-7 3P, 4-6 FT), 12 rebounds, three assists, and a block. He was solid down the stretch despite the Jazz doubling him on nearly every catch, and as always, he was a huge reason why the Wolves hung on to win this one.. Center. Minnesota Timberwolves. KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS. A-

A. Anthony Edwards started out quiet, barely shooting the ball until well into the second quarter. But he came to life in the middle stages of this one as the Wolves made their move, and he finished with 23 points on 19 shots, including 4-of-10 on 3-point attempts. He also chipped in nine rebounds, five steals, and four assists while only committing two turnovers. Edwards essentially sealed the game with a huge steal with around 30 seconds remaining in the game, and after a rocky start, turned in one of his better performances of the season.. Wing. Minnesota Timberwolves. ANTHONY EDWARDS

A-. Jaden McDaniels was quiet offensively but was a game-changer on defense, guarding positions 1 through 5 and creating major issues for the Jazz offense. While the box score will only show six points, five rebounds, and two assists, McDaniels was a major part of this victory.. Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. JADEN MCDANIELS

C+. Ricky Rubio was great defensively and his energy was vital to the Wolves turning the game around, he struggled offensively and never really looked comfortable against his former team. Rubio finished with two points and two assists in 20 minutes as Finch largely closed the game with Russell, Edwards, and Okogie in the backcourt; Rubio only made it onto the court when the Wolves needed to inbound the ball with under 30 seconds to play.. Point Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves. RICKY RUBIO

JOSH OKOGIE. A-. Josh Okogie’s performance was similar to McDaniels’. He was strong on defense and contributed just enough offensively to be a clear net-positive for the Wolves. Okogie had eight points, two rebounds, two steals, two assists and a block. He was also a +12 in the plus-minus column and continually disrupted Utah’s offense.. Wing. Minnesota Timberwolves

B+. Once again, D’Angelo Russell had a strong first half but was mostly quiet after the break. Still, Russell was on the court down the stretch and hit what proved to essentially be the game-sealing jumper, draining a 16-footer to stretch the Wolves’ lead to three points in the final minute. D’Lo finished with 23 points on 8-of-18 shooting and 3-of-10 from outside the arc. He had a cold stretch late in the third quarter and into the early stages of the fourth, but his strong first half kept the Wolves in the game and his dagger jumper was a huge difference-maker.. Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves. D'ANGELO RUSSELL

Other Notable Minnesota Timberwolves Players

The rest of the Wolves bench was quiet in this one as Finch relied largely on his starters, plus Russell, to take home the win.

Juancho Hernangomez played 19 minutes and had four points and five rebounds. Jarred Vanderbilt and Naz Reid each played 13 minutes. Reid was quiet, scoring just four points on eight shots and not making much of an impact on either end of the floor. Vanderbilt, on the other hand, pulled down eight rebounds and provided a level of physicality and energy that the Wolves weren’t consistently getting elsewhere early in this game.

Jordan McLaughlin didn’t play in the first half and was only on the court for five minutes, but his brief second-half stint was solid as he added two points, two rebounds, and two steals.

Next. Kevin Pelton puts Edwards in his top 25 under 25. dark

Next up for the Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota will head home to face the Jazz for a third and final time this season, with tip-off coming at 7 p.m. CT on Monday.