Player grades from Timberwolves’ victory over Boston Celtics

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jaylen Nowell led the way in an impressive win over the Boston Celtics. Mandatory Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jaylen Nowell led the way in an impressive win over the Boston Celtics. Mandatory Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves rode a strong performance from Jaylen Nowell and a couple of other unlikely heroes to an impressive win over the Boston Celtics.

Unlikely heroes lead Timberwolves to big win over the Boston Celtics

The Timberwolves were missing all five of their starters on Monday night due to health and safety protocols. They started a two-way player and leaned heavily on a 10-day contract signee who arrived in Minneapolis three hours before tip-off and only played two players who have been in head coach Chris Finch’s rotation for the entire season.

Still, they held on to defeat the Boston Celtics, pulling away late behind Jaylen Nowell’s stellar performance.

Early in the game, the Celtics took advantage of a series of sloppy mistakes made by the Wolves on offense and scored some easy buckets, building an 11-point halftime lead. But Nowell, two-way player Nathan Knight, and fresh 10-day contract signee/nine-year NBA veteran Greg Monroe to chip into the Celtics lead in the third quarter.

Minnesota drew to within five points by the start of the final frame. Then, it became the Jaylen Nowell Show.

Nowell dropped 11 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, including a couple of 3-pointers and a dynamic, show-stopping dunk over Celtics big man Jabari Parker. The Wolves’ third-year guard was fantastic throughout, scoring and distributing effectively while playing essentially mistake-free basketball.

The Wolves stretched their own lead to double-digits midway through the fourth quarter and leaned on Knight, Monroe, and Jaden McDaniels defensively and on the glass to salt away the win.

All things considered, this was an all-around impressive win for theWolves. While the Celtics were missing Jayson Tatum, the Wolves were able to hold Jayen Brown to 8-of-24 shooting while committing six turnovers. Outside of Al Horford, Payton Pritchard, and the occasional Grant Williams 3-pointer, nobody else on Boston’s roster was able to do any damage against the Wolves.

Player grades from Timberwolves’ victory over Boston Celtics

Let’s look at some player grades from the Timberwolves win over the Celtics.

Jaylen Nowell: A+

29 points (10-18 FG, 6-9 3P, 3-4 FT), 6 rebounds, 3 assists, one steal, one turnover

It’s hard to imagine Nowell playing any better than he did on Monday night. He was asked to come off the bench and provide instant offense for the Wolves, but he was also tasked with filling the role of backup point guard.

He did both perfectly, shooting an efficient clip from the floor, scoring at all three levels, and only turning the ball over once in 35 minutes of playing time. Nowell added a poster-worthy dunk for good measure, and scored 11 point in the final frame as the Wolves completed their comeback from an 11-point halftime deficit.

Nathan Knight: A-

20 points (8-11 FG, 2-2 3P, 2-3 FT), 11 rebounds, 4 assists, one steal, one block

The only blemish on Knight’s game was the foul trouble, which limited him to just 29 minutes. In a game in which Knight and Monroe — the former a two-way player and the latter having just signed a 10-day deal on the same day as the game — were the only big men available, it would have been ideal to stay out of foul trouble.

The flip side, of course, is that Knight put up 20 and 11 in just 29 minutes. He was genuinely great while playing a complete, all-around game. Knight can play both inside and outside and was solid defensively, further proving that he has the talent to be a regular member of an NBA rotation.

Greg Monroe: A

13 points (5-9 FG, 1-1 FT), 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, one block

Nine-year NBA veteran Greg Monroe got to the airport at 4 a.m. on Monday and arrived at Target Center at 4 p.m. prior to a 7 p.m. tip-off. He entered the game in the second quarter and ended up playing 25 minutes, including all of crunchtime.

Monroe was fantastic, adding an edge in the rebounding department that the Wolves don’t have on most nights and especially were missing on Monday with both Karl-Anthony Towns and Jarred Vanderbilt unavailable.

Monroe also put on a clinic in passing out of the post and scored when given the opportunity. It was a strong debut, and it’s fair to assume that Monroe will get plenty of run in the coming days for the Wolves.

Malik Beasley: B-

15 points (6-18 FG, 3-10 3P), 8 rebounds, 2 assists

Beasley was great in Thursday’s loss to the Utah Jazz. In this game, however, Beasley pressed a bit too much early and never really found his rhythm.

Still, he didn’t have a terrible game. He was active on the glass and played hard throughout. He just wasn’t efficient, making only a third of his shot attempts and never really looking comfortable.

Next. What have McDaniels, Nowell done with opportunity?. dark

The Wolves are back in action right away on Tuesday night, playing host to Tom Thibodeau and the New York Knicks before embarking on another West Coast road trip.