Minnesota Timberwolves: Player grades from loss to New Orleans Pelicans

Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves suffered their first loss of the season on Monday night as the offense sputtered in a re-match with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Offense struggles in Minnesota Timberwolves’ loss to the New Orleans Pelicans

The Wolves won ugly on Saturday, putting up only 96 points in a win against the Zion Williamson-less Pelicans.

On Monday, the Wolves’ offense struggled mightily again, but the outcome wasn’t so fortunate.

The Wolves fell behind early after Karl-Anthony Towns headed to the bench with a second personal foul midway through the first quarter, and they never were able to regain the lead against an inferior opponent.

The halftime deficit was 11 and ballooned to 21 in the third quarter before Anthony Edwards went off, leading the Wolves almost all the way back. It was a seven-point margin to start to the fourth quarter and Minnesota got as close as four points but was unable to seriously threaten to retake the lead late in the game.

Brandon Ingram (27 points, nine rebounds) and Jonas Valanciunas (22 points, 23 rebounds) led the way for the Pelicans, and the Wolves couldn’t stop the former on the perimeter down the stretch or the latter on the glass and in the paint.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Player grades from loss to New Orleans Pelicans

Let’s take a look at a few player grades, including a couple of players who turned strong performances and a pair of particularly poor showings.

Karl-Anthony Towns Player Grade: B+

32 points (10-24 FG, 4-10 3P, 8-8 FT), 14 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals

Towns was the reason the Wolves were in the game early, scoring 13 first-quarter points. But he also got himself into foul trouble in the first quarter. Although one of the calls was an admittedly terrible whistle on a supposedly illegal screen, it’s still a pattern for Towns, who also compounded matters by picking up a technical foul.

After a rough second quarter for the entire team, Towns was a big part of the third-quarter push, playing solid defense and playing Robin to Edwards’ Batman.

He was quiet early in the fourth quarter, however, as D’Angelo Russell and Edwards took over much of the offense.

Anthony Edwards Player Grade: B+

28 points (10-23 FG, 4-11 3P, 4-4 FT), 9 rebounds, 3 assists, one steal

Edwards somehow went scoreless in the entire first half, including 0-of-6 from the floor and 0-for-4 from outside the arc.

In the third quarter, however, Edwards went off. He scored 21 points in the frame, including a monster dunk and a pair of impressive stepback 3-pointers. It was electrifying, a reminder of just how talented last year’s No. 1 overall pick is, and a clear example of how quickly he can turn around a game all by himself.

He was much quieter in the fourth quarter, however, as his shot didn’t fall quite as easily and the Wolves’ offense continued to appear discombobulated.

D’Angelo Russell Player Grade: F

9 points (3-14 FG, 1-8 3P, 2-2 FT), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, one block

Russell played poorly for a second consecutive game. Beyond the terrible shooting, the decision-making and shot selection was horrendous, and the defense wasn’t any better.

Outside of that hot stretch in the third quarter of the win over the Rockets last week and the pair of 3-pointers that he made in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s win over New Orleans, Russell has been a clear negative for this team through 12 quarters of play.

Malik Beasley Player Grade: D

Malik Beasley is still trying to adjust to his role coming off the Wolves’ bench. He didn’t see much run in the first two games, playing a combined 40 minutes. But he saw his playing time increase to 29 minutes in this one as the Wolves spent much of the game playing catch up.

Unfortunately, Beasley couldn’t take advantage, shooting 1-of-8 from the floor, including 1-of-7 on 3-point attempts. The Wolves transition offense, where Beasley does much of his damage, has been awful, and that’s impacted Beasley’s ability to be effective.

Next. Wolves Power Rankings Round-Up, Week One. dark

Things get much tougher on Wednesday, however, when the Timberwolves make a visit to Milwaukee to take on the defending champs.