The Minnesota Timberwolves won for the seventh time in their last eight games with an impressive, shorthanded win over the Indiana Pacers.
Minnesota Timberwolves hang on to defeat the Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers came to Target Center on Monday night a bit shorthanded, missing Myles Turner. They were also on the second night of a back-to-back, having traveled in from Indianapolis after a home game on Sunday.
For their part, however, the Timberwolves were without three of their best four defenders. Patrick Beverley will be out for at least the next 10 days with an adductor strain. Both Jarred Vanderbilt and Jaden McDaniels missed the game due to flu-like symptoms.
That meant that Josh Okogie, who had played just 12 minutes during the entirety of the Wolves’ recent hot streak — all of them came in Friday’s loss at Charlotte, incidentally — was inserted into the starting lineup for the first time since Nov. 3.
While the defense struggled mightily early and gave up 57 points at halftime to a generally inconsistent Pacers offense, the intensity ratcheted up in the second half and the Wolves ultimately leaned on Okogie and others to lockdown Indiana down the stretch.
The Wolves got enough offense late from Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell, the latter of whom grabbed a key offensive rebound and fed Malik Beasley for a go-ahead corner 3-pointer in the final minute.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 32 points but committed nine turnovers and fouled out in 32 minutes. It was a strange performance from KAT, but he did enough before departing to help the Wolves come back from what was at one point a 12-point deficit early in the third quarter.
Player grades from Minnesota Timberwolves’ win over Indiana Pacers
Let’s look at a few player grades from key Wolves players.
D’Angelo Russell: A
21 points (7-17 FG, 3-9 3P, 4-4 FT), 11 assists, 8 rebounds, one steal
This was about as close to a perfect game from Russell as the Wolves could hope to get. He was perfectly balanced between looking for his own shot and distributing and managed to only turn the ball over once compared to 11 assists.
Just as importantly, he had one of his best defensive games in a Timberwolves uniform. Combined with the impressive game-winning plays he made on that end of the floor in Philadelphia on Saturday, it’s fair to opine that we may be seeing a major shift in how D’Lo can be viewed defensively.
Anthony Edwards: A-
21 points (7-19 FG, 2-7 3P, 5-6 FT), 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals
While Edwards’s performance was a bit more uneven than Russell’s, he was again huge in the fourth quarter. He took over the game for a stretch, snatching a couple of steals and rebounds and knocking down a huge 3-pointer.
He struggled to convert in the paint throughout the game, however, and also wasted a couple of possessions with inopportune isolation play, but was a massive part of the Wolves’ initial comeback and final fourth-quarter surge.
Josh Okogie: A
2 points (1-4, 0-2 3P), 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
No, Okogie’s line isn’t sexy. But he was fantastic defensively and did a solid job bothering Malcolm Brogdon all night. He was also solid on offense, taking what the defense gave him and dishing out four assists with zero turnovers.
For a team sorely missing Vanderbilt’s energy, Okogie’s performance was a much-needed shot in the arm.
Karl-Anthony Towns: B
32 points (13-22 FG, 1-4 3P, 5-8 FT), 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 9 turnovers
It’s really difficult to parse what we just watched here. Then again, maybe not.
We saw the good (dominance in the paint, efficient offense, timely rebounding) and the bad (unnecessary turnovers and fouls, made doubly as bad when committing careless offensive fouls) of Karl-Anthony Towns. He fouled out in just 32 minutes and again wasn’t on the floor down the stretch of a close game.
Towns just needs to work on regulating both his emotions and his limbs on both ends of the floor. If he can do that, he’s an All-Star and a potential All-NBA player.
Next up, the Wolves head back out to the East Coast to take on the Washington Wizards on Wednesday. Tip-off is at 6 p.m. CT.