Player grades from Minnesota Timberwolves’ loss to Dallas Mavericks

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Malik Beasley shoots over Dallas Mavericks guard Frank Ntilikina. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Malik Beasley shoots over Dallas Mavericks guard Frank Ntilikina. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s not a great look when you can’t stop a team down its three best scorers, and that’s exactly what happened to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.

Timberwolves lose to the Mavericks with both teams short-handed

Despite Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis, and Tim Hardaway Jr., among other Mavericks, missing Tuesday’s game, the Timberwolves fell by a score of 114-102.

Outside of a solid fourth quarter, the Wolves bled points. Jalen Brunson, who hurt Minnesota when the teams played on Sunday, continued his strong play in an increased role with 28 points on 10-of-18 shooting and six assists.

Minnesota fell behind and simply had too much ground to make up in the final frame.

“We got down so big, we raced back and got the lead, and then it was a matter of getting some buckets, too, and we just dried up at the end,” Wolves head coach Chris Finch said on Wolves Live Postgame.

Minnesota clearly missed the defensive efforts of Jarred Vanderbilt and Patrick Beverley, the latter of whom would have come in handy defending Brunson’s jitterbug game. Playing without those two, Anthony Edwards and two other rotation pieces in Taurean Prince and Josh Okogie — all in health and safety protocols — didn’t help.

The Wolves didn’t buoy their defense on the other end of the court; the Mavericks scored 19 points on 17 Minnesota turnovers. While not a great conversion rate, every turnover kept the Timberwolves from putting more points on the board.

Any time the short-handed Mavs hit a bit of a lull offensively, the Wolves handed them ready-made points with sloppy decision-making.

Player grades from Timberwolves’ loss to Dallas Mavericks

Here are your player grades from a tough loss.

Karl-Anthony Towns: B+

26 points (9-14 FG, 3-4 3P, 5-5 FT), 14 rebounds, seven assists, two blocks, five turnovers

Everyone knew Towns would have to carry a major load with three starters and two other rotation players out, and he answered the bell.

The big man came out playing with purpose, scoring 12 points on 4-of-4 shooting and adding five rebounds in the first quarter. He took little time to continue a trend from Sunday’s game in decimating the Mavericks’ big men from the top of the key, and he kept the undermanned and undersized Wolves from getting completely bullied on the glass.

Towns’ only real deficiency was another poor decision-making game. It was the typical story for the Wolves offense this season: the opponent doubles Towns because few other Timberwolves are scoring, and Towns reacts by holding the ball too long before chucking it out of bounds or into the waiting hands of a defender.

Overall, though, it was another ridiculously efficient night for Towns, who looked like he knew Minnesota needed him with so many contributors out.

D’Angelo Russell: D

14 points (4-18 FG, 1-11 3P, 5-5 FT), one rebound, 12 assists, three turnovers

There’s something to be said for Russell’s subtle impacts on the Wolves this season. Despite near career-lows in scoring efficiency, Russell has been a necessary piece — the Timberwolves are 21.4 points better per 100 possessions with Russell on the court.

But imagine how good Minnesota would be with Russell out there if he didn’t have his worst effective field goal percentage since his third season in the NBA. Tuesday was another scoring slog for D-Lo, and his proficiency in setting the table for his teammates wasn’t enough to offset that.

“I thought he took some tough shots out there. I thought he was pressing a little bit,” Finch said on Wolves Live Postgame. “I think he needs to let the ball come back and find him a little bit in the offense.”

Bottom line: The Timberwolves needed Russell to pull his weight on the scoreboard with so many pieces out, and he came up short. It’s not helpful to repeatedly say “Just shoot better!” But Russell’s offensive struggles are absolutely holding the Wolves back.

Malik Beasley: Grade B+

22 points (8-15 FG, 6-12 3P), three rebounds, two assists, four turnovers

Beasley’s high-scoring games have been few and far between in 2021-22, and it’s been even rarer for him to combine a big points night with efficiency. But Beasley did his part to account for Minnesota’s missing production Tuesday.

He found his stroke from outside early and kept going back to the well throughout the night. Minnesota could have used some buckets from him in the final quarter, But Beasley did everything the Wolves could ask from him. Two of his threes came during a crucial stretch in the third quarter when Minnesota staved off a potential blowout to get back within striking distance entering the fourth.

One of the reasons Beasley was so dialed in was because he picked good spots to let it fly – particularly on catch-and-shoot opportunities. Minnesota ran some great actions to get Beasley open without needing to take a dribble.

While this was a disappointing result against a team even more short-handed than they were, the Wolves will hopefully start to get some of their players back later this week and get back in the left-hand column.

Next. An ode to Jarred Vanderbilt's skill set. dark

The Wolves finish their two-game mini-road trip on Thursday against the Utah Jazz.