Minnesota Timberwolves: Player grades from loss to Utah Jazz

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell drives to the basket as Minnesota Timberwolves guard Leandro Bolmaro defends. Mandatory Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell drives to the basket as Minnesota Timberwolves guard Leandro Bolmaro defends. Mandatory Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Patrick Beverley
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Patrick Beverley had a strong return from injury. Mandatory Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports /

Minnesota Timberwolves: Player grades from loss to Utah Jazz

Patrick Beverley: Grade B

16 points (8-11 FG, 0-2 3P, 0-1 FT), two rebounds, two assists

Everyone knew Patrick Beverley would contribute plenty in his return to the court, but few thought he would provide impactful scoring.

Beverley brought just that from the jump in his first game back after missing the last eight with a left adductor strain, scoring eight points in the first seven minutes of the game and throwing in a few floaters over Gobert along the way.

When he returned in the second quarter, Minnesota’s bench unit had allowed Utah to build a 10-point lead, and Beverley worked with Anthony Edwards to alleviate that. Beverley tied his season-high of 14 points by halftime, which was crucial given Karl-Anthony Towns’ early struggles.

Beverley obviously slowed down in the second half, along with virtually every other Timberwolf. He also wasn’t quite the same defensive presence as he was to start the season. That’s to be expected in his first game back, and his 22:43 minutes on the court indicate he was never going to dominate this game from buzzer to buzzer.

Still, his scoring to open the game was encouraging. As he continues to get his legs back, look for more minutes and defensive tenacity.

Karl-Anthony Towns: Grade B-

22 points (7-11 FG, 2-4 3P, 6-8 FT), seven rebounds, five assists, four turnovers, one block

Towns was fantastic in a 31-point, 16-rebound performance against the Hawks Monday despite being clearly limited by his tailbone contusion. Towns moved much more fluidly from the start against Utah, so it was fair to expect another big night.

It never materialized in the first half. The Jazz are said to have ignited the trend of teams putting a big forward on Towns and allowing their center to provide help off a non-shooter, and KAT only took two shots as the Jazz implemented the approach in the first half.

Towns pulled it back with an 18-point second half, but it appeared the rest of the offense had to sacrifice its own aggression to help make that happen. That’s not on Towns, but it is a concerning trend that Minnesota can’t seem to get all its important parts working at the same time within a normal offensive flow.

Finch said the team made a concerted effort to get Towns going at the nail on offense.

“When they put the small on him, it’s hard to double him there, for sure,” Finch said. “Gobert stands in the lane all night long, not a single three-second defense [call]. We were trying to maybe force one of those, too.”

Anthony Edwards: Grade C+

18 points (7-16 FG, 4-8 3P, 3-5 FT), two rebounds, five assists, one steal

Anthony Edwards has not been at his best recently. In the six contests since his 33-point game in the win over Miami, Edwards has averaged 19.2 points and never shot higher than 44.4 percent in any game – not horrible numbers, to be sure, but not what the Wolves have needed from him with Towns, Russell and Beverley dealing with injuries.

Edwards looked unsure of when to fit in and when to assert his will during that stretch, but that was not an issue through two quarters against the Jazz. He looked confident getting to his pull-up game and drained three 3-pointers.

And then Edwards just disappeared in the second half, essentially taking Towns’ place as Minnesota’s absent star. He made just one of six shots and scored three points in the game’s final 24 minutes while the Jazz pounded the life out of Minnesota.

Still in just his second year, these types of growing pains are to be expected from Edwards. But if he can learn how to be more consistently impactful as a scorer, it would greatly benefit this rollercoaster Wolves offense.

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

Up next, Minnesota hosts the Cleveland Cavaliers in a reunion with former Timberwolves Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio.