Player grades from Timberwolves’ road win over the Rockets

Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns dropped 40 points in the win over the Houston Rockets. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns dropped 40 points in the win over the Houston Rockets. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves extended their winning streak to four games with a resounding road win over the Houston Rockets.

Timberwolves dominate, Karl-Anthony Towns drops 40 in win over Rockets

Following a blowout win in Oklahoma City on Friday night, the Timberwolves headed further south and stayed hot, leading by more than 20 points for much of the game before settling for an 18-point road win over the Houston Rockets.

The Wolves led from the jump, with the Rockets only grabbing a brief one-point lead early in the first quarter. Karl-Anthony Towns scored 18 points in the first quarter alone, propelling the Wolves to a 36-25 lead by the end of the opening frame.

The second quarter is when Minnesota separated itself, using a diminutive lineup of D’Angelo Russell, Jaylen Nowell, Malik Beasley, Josh Okogie, and Naz Reid to expand their lead to 18 points before Towns re-entered the game.

The synergy between Russell and Nowell continues to grow, and with Patrick Beverley missing his second consecutive game, the duo was essentially tasked with running the bench unit. Even in his minutes initiating offense for the reserves alone, Nowell was fantastic, tallying five assists and zero turnovers on the night.

For his part, Russell had 19 points in the first half, including five made threes. He

The Wolves were up by 21 at halftime and controlled the third quarter as well. Towns continued to beat up the much-smaller Rockets frontcourt, scoring from everywhere on the court.

Minnesota led by as many as 26 points before Houston ate into the lead a bit, getting it down to 15 midway through the fourth quarter. That forced head coach Chris Finch to re-insert Towns and keep Anthony Edwards and Russell on the floor longer than he wanted to, but they quickly got the lead back north of 20 and put things away.

The Wolves have now won four straight games and have another matchup on tap in which they’ll be heavily favored as they head to New Orleans to take on the Pelicans.

Player grades from Timberwolves’ road win over the Rockets

Several Timberwolves players had fantastic performances on Sunday night. Let’s take a look at a few player grades.

Karl-Anthony Towns: A+

40 points (15-25 FG, 4-6 3P, 6-8 FT), 9 rebounds, 7 assists, one steal

Towns was fantastic, dominating the Rockets’ small front line. Christian Wood and Co. didn’t stand a chance at slowing down Towns, as the Wolves superstar scored on every level over the course of the night.

Instead of focusing solely on punishing the smaller Rockets in the post, Towns knocked down four 3-pointers and scored on multiple face-up possessions on straight-line drives to the rim. He only committed two turnovers and was strong defensively, only committing two personal fouls — and zero offensive fouls.

Towns was the best player on the floor in this one, and it wasn’t close.

D’Angelo Russell: A

22 points (8-14 FG, 5-9 3P, 1-1 FT), 10 assists, 5 rebounds, one steal

Russell had his second consecutive strong performance, scoring 19 of his 22 points in the first half and generally controlling the game.

After shooting 11-of-12 from the field on Friday against the Thunder, Russell began Sunday’s game in similar fashion. He was solid defensively, too, until the game was well in hadn.

Jarred Vanderbilt: A+

21 points (10-14 FG, 1-3 FT), 19 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks

Vanderbilt set career-highs in both points and rebounds for a single game. More than half of his baskets came in pick-and-roll situations, as the Rockets simply could not figure out how to effectively guard the Wolves’ action in the middle of the floor.

Nearly all of his baskets were dunks as he was once again the perfect complement to Towns. Per usual, he brought contagious energy and was solid on defense.

Jaylen Nowell: A

11 points (5-7 FG, 0-1 3P, 1-2 FT), 5 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals

Nowell had another strong game. The pairing with Russell is proving to be extremely dynamic on offense and was the key behind the Wolves building a 20-plus-point lead.

He’s growing into a reliable initiator of offense, too, notching five assists while turning it over exactly zero times. Nowell also pitched in five rebounds and three steals.

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The Wolves will have Monday off before paying a visit to the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night.