Minnesota Timberwolves: Player grades from home win over Utah Jazz

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

The Minnesota Timberwolves have swept the season series against the team with the NBA’s best record.

104. 118. 105. 86. Final

The Minnesota Timberwolves have won two games in a row for the first time since Dec. 26.

Let that sink in. It’s been exactly four months. That, too, was a win over the Utah Jazz, who still hold the NBA’s best record and have for virtually the entire season.

The Wolves, of course, had a healthy Karl-Anthony Town and D’Angelo Russell for all three of their victories against Utah, including Saturday night’s road win and Monday’s victory at Target Center.

In this one, Minnesota once again got off to a slow start, committing six turnovers in the first quarter alone and falling behind by a 33-17 margin. The Jazz expanded their lead to as many as 18 before the Wolves began to push back.

At the seven-minute mark of the second quarter, Wolves starters only had five points: three from Josh Okogie and two from Jaden McDaniels. But Town came to life, and along with a piping hot Russell at the end of the second quarter, the Wolves managed to take a two-point lead into halftime.

The third quarter was mostly more of the same, with Russell and Towns doing most of the damage for the Wolves as they built a 13-point lead prior to the final frame.

Down the stretch, however, the Jazz pushed back and tied the game with just under three minutes left to play. But Russell drained a stepback 3-pointer and after a Joe Ingles miss on the other end, he navigated the pick-and-roll and hit a cutting Anthony Edwards for a tough bucket in the paint, stretching the Wolves’ lead back to five points.

Ingles split a pair of free throws on the other end, and after empty possessions for both teams, Rudy Gobert threw down a dunk to get Utah within two with 18.9 seconds on the clock. Towns only made one of two free throws, pushing the lead back to three.

The Wolves opted to foul, and Conley made the first free throw. He missed the second, but Gobert tipped the rebound off of Naz Reid, who was standing out of bounds. On a baseline-out-of-bounds play, Mike Conley drained a tough step-back three over Ricky Rubio, giving the Jazz a one-point lead.

After a timeout, the Wolves tried to get the ball to Towns on the perimeter, but the Jazz sent everyone to KAT and Gobert allowed Russell to slip free for the go-ahead layup.

The Jazz called timeout and got the ball into Conley, but Rubio tipped the ball away and McDaniels secured it and flung it down court to seal the win.

Minnesota Timberwolves Player Grades vs. Utah Jazz

KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS. A-. Karl-Anthony Towns started slow but was a massive part of the Wolves’ mid-game surge. He only had five field goal attempts until throwing down a huge fourth-quarter dunk along the baseline around Gobert. That seemed to spark him a bit, and he was fantastic throughout the rest of the game. Towns finished with 21 points (7-13 FG, 1-4 3P, 6-7 FT), 11 rebounds, two assists and a steal.. Center. Minnesota Timberwolves

ANTHONY EDWARDS. B-. Anthony Edwards generally had a difficult night, although it was somewhat salvaged by a massive dunk and a huge bucket that extended the Wolves’ lead to five points in the final minutes. He spent most of the game settling for double-pump, flat-footed 3-pointers, making only one of 10 long-range. Edwards finished 5-for-17 from the field but did add nine rebounds, four assists, and a steal. He also struggled defensively and was beat badly a couple of times gambling for a home-run steal on that end of the floor.. Wing. Minnesota Timberwolves

B+. Jaden McDaniels had another quiet night on offense (six points on 2-of-9 shooting), but he supplemented his typically strong defense with important work on the glass. The Wolves’ “other” rookie pulled down 10 rebounds in 32 minutes and had two steals and two blocks while guarding virtually every position on the floor.. Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. JADEN MCDANIELS

B. Ricky Rubio had another all-defense, no-offense game. While he dragged down the Wolves offense again with a 1-of-6 shooting performance, Rubio pulled down several massive rebounds in the fourth quarter and came up with a pair of steals, including the game-sealing tap-away that sent the ball into McDaniels’ arms. Coach Chris Finch pulled the right strings in terms of his rotation in this one.. Point Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves. RICKY RUBIO

Minnesota Timberwolves. JOSH OKOGIE. B. Josh Okogie did a bit more offensively this time around as the Jazz continued to dare him to shoot the ball from the perimeter. He knocked down 2-of-4 from deep and finished with eight points, three rebounds, and an assist. Okogie was generally solid on defense as well, and the Wolves were able to keep him on the floor in the second half by continuously using him as the primary screener in ball-screen action.. Wing

A. D’Angelo Russell came into the game as he usually does: on fire on offense, but giving back a good chunk of the points on the defensive end. As the game wore on, however, Russell was genuinely solid on defense and was an absolute flamethrower offensively. D’Lo was on fire at the end of the third quarter and had a big 3-pointer and an assist on the Wolves’ final field goal of the game. He finished with 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting and 7-of-12 on 3-point attempts. Russell also pitched in 12 assists.. Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves. D'ANGELO RUSSELL

A. Naz Reid played minutes both at the backup 5 and alongside Towns at the 4, and he turned in another solid performance. Reid finished with 13 points on an ultra-efficient 5-of-7 shooting, including 2-of-3 from long-range. He had two rebounds and a block and was impressive moving his feet on defense.. Big. Minnesota Timberwolves. NAZ REID

A-. Juancho Hernangomez did everything the Wolves needed him to and more. He put up 14 points on five shots off the bench, hitting a couple of first-half threes and a pair of tough shots in the paint. Once again, this was the Juancho that the Wolves gave a multi-year deal to this past offseason.. Forward. Minnesota Timberwolves. JUANCHO HERNANGOMEZ

Other Notable Minnesota Timberwolves Players

Jordan McLaughlin played 12 minutes and didn’t attempt a shot, but he did dish out four assists and grab a rebound.

Jarred Vanderbilt played 10 scoreless minutes and while he brought plenty of energy and defensive effort, he struggled mightily on offense, committing three turnovers and making multiple sloppy mistakes.

Next. Wolves are reportedly interested Pierria Henry. dark

Next up for the Minnesota Timberwolves

The Wolves head right back out on the road after a one-game home stint to take on the cellar-dwelling Houston Rockets in H-Town on Tuesday evening.