Player grades from Timberwolves’ loss to Los Angeles Lakers
Let’s run through some player grades from the night.
Naz Reid: B+
23 points (10-17 FG, 0-4 3P, 3-4 FT), 11 rebounds, two assists, four turnovers
The Wolves, for once, had a size advantage in this game with the Lakers playing James at center for the most part, and Reid punished Los Angeles for it.
Reid couldn’t be stopped around the basket, bullying smaller Lakers defenders such as Stanley Johnson for buckets and rebounds alike. He grabbed five offensive rebounds in the first half alone and threw down a few thunderous dunks rolling to the basket.
Reid built on the first-half effort with his trademark smooth post game in the third quarter. It all resulted in a season-high scoring output and his first-ever 20-10 game.
The only real gripe against him is that he went completely quiet when James matched up on him in the fourth quarter, which hurt a Wolves team already in need of reliable sources of offense.
Head coach Chris Finch said Reid did well to take advantage of his size but said he wanted to see Reid clean up the late-game turnovers.
“I’m sure for him it was good to see the ball go in a little bit,” Finch said. “He’s been struggling to play with any kind of consistency offensively.”
Anthony Edwards: D
18 points (7-19 FG, 0-6 3P, 4-6 FT), seven rebounds, four assists, eight turnovers
It’s a bit strange that Edwards’ rust from sitting out six games in health and safety protocols showed itself in his second game back.
Edwards scored like he’d never missed a beat against Utah, but he started and finished the Lakers game struggling to control the ball. His four first-quarter turnovers were the key factor in Minnesota falling behind early, and he gave it away three times in the game’s final two minutes.
“He fought the game all night long. We kept telling him ‘You’ve got to use the coverage against them,’” Finch said. “They put two on the ball, he tried to dribble around it. His passing was late out of it.”
Edwards also struggled mightily to put the ball in the basket. Missing all six of his 3-point attempts really dragged the Wolves’ offense down in a game where other guys had good scoring nights. Making seven of 13 shots inside the arc isn’t bad, but Edwards often looked like he was forcing the issue with the ball in his hands.
Perhaps that’s down to him feeling he needed to step up with Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell out. Still, it probably would have served the Wolves well if Edwards had made a few more simple plays and allowed Reid and Jaylen Nowell to take on more responsibility.
Jaylen Nowell: B+
17 points (7-10 FG, 1-4 3P, 2-2 FT), four rebounds, two assists, one steal
It’s becoming clearer every day that Nowell needs to be a big part of Minnesota’s rotation even when the team is fully healthy. The Wolves just don’t have a ton of guys on the roster who can make things happen offensively, but he’s one of them.
Nowell displayed the ability to get to his spots and complementary passing vision he’s come to be known for, but the most impressive part of this performance was how he handled contact. The Lakers got into him on his dribble moves and contested hard at the basket, but Nowell seemed unfazed.
Nowell said he feels more confident in his ability to sustain high-level play with a few seasons under his belt.
“I’ve been playing a lot more games and learning every single game, so I definitely think that it’s kind of inevitable with the amount of games I’ve been playing and the amount of film I’ve been watching,” Nowell said of his improvement.
Outside of a few ugly misses from three, Nowell was a perfect scorer off the bench. He also made a couple of nice defensive plays, which may encourage Finch to give the third-year guard more minutes.
The Wolves (16-20) move on to face the Clippers, who have completely dominated Minnesota this season, tomorrow night for the dreaded Los Angeles back-to-back.