Player grades from Timberwolves’ loss at Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden controls the ball against Minnesota Timberwolves guard D'Angelo Russell. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden controls the ball against Minnesota Timberwolves guard D'Angelo Russell. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves battled valiantly without Karl-Anthony Towns but ultimately fell on the road to the Brooklyn Nets.

The Timberwolves fall to the Brooklyn Nets despite valiant effort

The Wolves didn’t have Karl-Anthony Towns available on Friday night in Brooklyn due to a tailbone contusion suffered late in Wednesday’s loss to the Washington Wizards. It would have been an acceptable excuse to not compete against the Brooklyn Nets, currently the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Instead, the Wolves came out and played well early, building a seven-point lead by the end of the first quarter behind strong inside play from Naz Reid and Jarred Vanderbilt.

The Nets came back strong in the second quarter as Russell and Anthony Edwards were both relatively quiet, but eh Wolves only trailed by four at halftime.

Russell came on in the second half, however, and the Wolves were in the game down the stretch. The Wolves were only down a possession in the final minute, but Kevin Durant knocked down a mid-range jumper to stretch the lead to five, and Russell missed a 10-footer in the final 12 seconds that would have cut the lead back to three.

The Wolves showed tenacity on the glass and on the defensive end of the floor in making it a game and Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley, and Leandro Bolmaro in particular made things difficult on both Durant and James Harden.

Player grades from Timberwolves’ loss at Brooklyn Nets

Let’s take a look at a few player grades from the game.

Naz Reid: A

19 points (7-14 FG, 3-6 3P, 2-2 FT), 7 rebounds, one assist

It would be hard to envision Naz Reid having a better game in relief of Towns. He started and played 34 minutes, scoring in a variety of ways: from the perimeter, off the dribble, and on the offensive glass.

He was solid defensively, too, when switched onto the likes of Durant and Harden. Reid did what he could, and didn’t look overmatched in a starting role.

Jarred Vanderbilt: A

10 points (5-8 FG) 15 rebounds, 3 assists, one steal, one block

Vanderbilt was fantastic, notching a double-double and playing his heart out defensively on the perimeter when tasked with trying to slow down Durant.

Vando was also active offensively, almost always in the right place at the right time. He was his typically effective self on the glass, pulling down 15 rebounds, including six of the offensive variety.

D’Angelo Russell: B-

21 points (6-22 FG, 3-10 3P, 6-6 FT), 11 assists, 3 rebounds, one steal

This was not Russell’s most efficient game, but he played well enough to keep the Wolves around despite no Karl-Anthony Towns and an off game from Anthony Edwards.

Russell started the game shooting just 2-for-10 and didn’t hit his stride until the second half, but he never really got hot. Still, he competed defensively and distributed the ball well, tallying 11 assists to only four turnovers against his former team.

Anthony Edwards: C-

19 points (7-16 FG, 1-7 3P, 4-4 FT), 4 assists, 3 steals, 2 rebounds, 8 turnovers.

This was a rough performance from Edwards, who committed eight turnovers to only four assists. Of the eight turnovers, at least three were simply dribbling the ball off his leg out of bounds or throwing a pass to nobody.

He also settled for step-back 3-pointers multiple times when guarded by a big. Edwards simply wasn’t in attack mode in this one, and while he was decent on defense, did not do enough offensively to get his team in position to steal a win on the road.

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Overall, this was a generally encouraging performance for a shorthanded team against one of the league’s best. Still, a loss is a loss, and the Wolves now have two in a row as they head back home to take on the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.