Player grades from Timberwolves big win over Lakers

Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns celebrates. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns celebrates. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves have won three straight after blowing out the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night at Target Center.

Minnesota Timberwolves defeat the Los Angeles Lakers

The Timberwolves took down the Lakers 110-92 at home on Friday night as Karl-Anthony Towns led the way with a game-high 28 points and 10 rebounds.

Minnesota has won three straight games since getting blown out by the Cavaliers a week ago and are now 2-0 against the Lakers this season. Even with Anthony Edwards missing the first game of his career because of health and safety protocols, the Timberwolves picked up an impressive victory.

Player grades from Timberwolves big win over Lakers

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

Karl-Anthony Towns: A

28 points (11/20 FG, 2/6 3PFG, 4/5 FT), 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks, one steal

Towns was on a mission from the jump, scoring every point during the Timberwolves 10-4 run to open the first quarter, forcing an early timeout from Frank Vogel. He continuously attacked fellow former Kentucky center Anthony Davis (who later exited with a lower leg injury) en route to a 23-point first half.

Minnesota dominated the interior in the half, racking up eight offensive rebounds and 26 points in the paint as Towns made his presence felt.

Los Angeles went on an 11-0 run in the third quarter to get within striking distance but the Timberwolves responded immediately with 10 unanswered points, capped off by a putback dunk from Towns.

Minnesota never let up from that point on, extending their lead to 85-65 heading to the fourth quarter. Towns had high energy and effort from the beginning of the game and produced at an elite level, finishing with 28 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.

Malik Beasley: B

17 points (7/18 FG, 3/13 3PFG, 0/0 FT), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals

Beasley started for the first time this season with Edwards sidelined and filled in admirably. He wasn’t exactly on target from the perimeter, shooting just 7-of-18 from the field and 3-of-13 from 3-point range, but found a way to make an impact in other areas.

The 6-foot-4 guard tied his season-high with four assists and two steals while grabbing four rebounds in 32 minutes. Beasley was engaged on both ends of the floor and was a major key to Minnesota’s win.

It’s unclear how long Edwards will remain out but until then, the backup guard will clearly take on more responsibility. Beasley had a smooth steal and fastbreak dunk over LeBron James to put the Timberwolves up 61-47 early in the third quarter.

If he can continue to make game-changing plays like that, his playing time will keep going up even when Edwards returns. Beasley also recorded a team-best +25 plus/minus on Friday night.

D’Angelo Russell: C+

17 points (6/15 FG, 3/8 3PFG, 2/5 FT), 6 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, 4 turnovers

Russell ended up having a pretty good game against the Lakers but it certainly didn’t start that way.

Even though the Timberwolves led 23-16 after the opening period, Russell was 0-for-4 from the 3-point arc and was struggling to make the right read on offense. He started to get it going from that point on though and was a big factor in Minnesota’s second half surge, helping Chris Finch’s team outscore the Lakers 31-20 in the third quarter.

The home team stacked up 13 steals and forced 18 turnovers in the win as they put constant pressure on the Lakers ball handlers. While improved this year, Russell isn’t known for being a great on-ball defender but he was able to disrupt passes and pick up a game-high three steals along with Jarred Vanderbilt.

Minnesota becomes a difficult team to face when the defense plays at such a high level and that was the case against the Lakers, who scored their third lowest points of the year.

The Timberwolves have a chance to win a fourth consecutive game over a conference opponent as they host the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday evening. A victory would push Minnesota past the Mavericks for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference but the two teams are set to meet again on Tuesday in Dallas.

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Following the home-and-home against the Mavericks, the Timberwolves will travel to Utah on Thursday for one last game before Christmas.