Player grades from Timberwolves’ victory over Portland Trail Blazers

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Edwards, guard Patrick Beverley, and guard D'Angelo Russell celebrate. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Edwards, guard Patrick Beverley, and guard D'Angelo Russell celebrate. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves snapped a five-game losing streak with an impressive road win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Timberwolves hold on to beat Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers

The Timberwolves and the Trail Blazers each entered Sunday night’s game with an 11-15 record and on a significant losing streak. They both were getting back their starting point guard after missing several games due to injury. And each team desperately needed a win.

Early on, defense was optional for both teams, yet the offensive execution remained rather sloppy. As the game wore on, however, the Wolves tightened up defensively and saw their three best players each take turns dominating a quarter.

In the second quarter, it was Anthony Edwards who went on a quick flurry and helped the Wolves stay in the game when not much else was working. Ultimately, the Blazers led by a single point at halftime.

After a relatively quiet first half, Karl-Anthony Towns had a strong third quarter, scoring in a variety of ways and adding in a few impressive passes for good measure. He led the Wolves on a 12-0 run and propelled them to a double-digit lead.

The Trail Blazers pushed back, however, and went on a run of their own, ultimately retaking the lead.

In the last half of the fourth quarter, Portland was up by a pair of possessions before D’Angelo Russell hit consecutive 3-pointers. Then, an assist to Towns, who scored over Damian Lillard in the paint.

The Wolves’ defense stepped up, scrambling and contesting 3-point attempts and securing defensive rebounds down the stretch. Russell orchestrated the offense to a six-point lead in the final minute, and despite a pair of missed free throws from DLo that added some intrigue, the late-game execution was solid enough to give the Wolves just a bit of breathing room.

Player grades from Timberwolves’ victory over Portland Trail Blazers

Let’s look at a few player grades from the Timberwolves’ win over the Trail Blazers.

Karl-Anthony Towns: B+

23 points (7-17 FG, 0-3 3P, 9-10 FT), 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 turnovers

Yes, Towns had five turnovers in the game, but that would be a crude way to evaluate Towns’ overall performance.

The Wolves were creative with where Towns received the ball, and to Towns credit, the Wolves superstar big man was patient and picked the proper spots to be aggressive. While the 3-point attempts were lacking, his post opportunities and touches near the elbows were fruitful. Of his five turnovers, three were offensive fouls, and two of them were questionable at best.

This was a generally strong game from Towns, and he was largely responsible for the Wolves’ third-quarter burst that allowed them to build a double-digit lead.

Jarred Vanderbilt: A

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

Jarred Vanderbilt had a fantastic performance. It’s not very often that Vando attempts eight shots in a game. It’s also not very often that he’ll both make a 3-pointer and score off the dribble in the half-court. Well, those things all happened in this one.

Vanderbilt scored on a fastbreak, as a cutter, as an offensive-rebounder, off the dribble, and as a spot-up shooter. He legitimately did it all, and was a huge help defensively as well.

Even better, he only committed one turnover in 31 minutes and nabbed three steals. This was vintage Vando, with an extra burst of efficient offense to boot.

D’Angelo Russell: A-

18 points (5-12 FG, 4-8 3P, 4-6 FT), 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals

D’Angelo Russell had a quiet game until the fourth quarter, when he suddenly came alive in the closing moments.

First it was consecutive 3-pointers, then it was some nifty passing and strong defense. After missing a pair of critical free throws, Russell calmly knocked down the game-sealing freebies in the closing seconds.

Russell was Mr. Ice In My Veins once again, and it was sorely needed on a night when most of the rest of the Wolves were struggling from the perimeter. Getting him back after he missed the last three games was vital to this win for the Wolves.

Anthony Edwards: B+

24 points (7-13, 2-7 3P, 8-9 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, one steal

Anthony Edwards quietly led the Wolves in scoring in this one. He had a big second quarter but was otherwise quiet, save for a few big points down the stretch as the visitors held on for the win.

Early in the game, Edwards was settling for a few too many isolation 3-point attempts. As the game wore on, however, he became a bit more aggressive going to the rim and mostly found his shots in the flow of the offense.

This was simply a well-rounded offensive attack from the Wolves, with Edwards scoring 24 points on 13 shots, Towns putting up 23 points on 17 shots, and Russell scoring most of his 18 points in the closing minutes of the game while only attempting 12 shots from the field overall.

Russell's importance to the Wolves is clearer than ever. dark. Next

The Wolves get the next two nights off as they head to Denver to take on the Nuggets on Wednesday evening.