The Minnesota Timberwolves had their four-game losing streak snapped by Brandon Ingram and the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night at Smoothie King Center.
Brandon Ingram makes last-second shot as Pelicans sink the Timberwolves
The Timberwolves came into New Orleans with a golden chance to extend their winning streak to five games, but Brandon Ingram had other ideas as the Pelicans defeated the Wolves by a score of 128-125.
This game was all offense from the opening tap, with the teams playing to a high-scoring near-draw in the first frame. The Wolves led by a score of 36-35 in what was more parts solid offense by both teams than shoddy defense.
As the game wore on, however, the Wolves struggled a bit more on the defensive end of the floor. They gave up inopportune offensive rebounds to the Pelicans and committed far too many fouls. New Orleans came into the game as one of the league’s best teams at drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line, while the Wolves have been the league’s most foul-prone defensive unit for virtually the entire season.
The Pelicans were able to build a six-point lead by halftime and continued to extend the margin in the third quarter as Ingram and Josh Hart controlled the game throughout the middle stages.
While Jarred Vanderbilt and Jaden McDaniels each had strong stretches guarding Ingram, the Pelicans star mostly got what he wanted. The Pelicans built a 13-point lead before the Wolves cut into it just a bit, but New Orleans maintained a lead that approached or exceeded double-figures until the midway point of the fourth quarter.
Anthony Edwards finally got hot, however, and he almost single-handedly brought the Wolves to within striking distance in the closing minutes of the game. Eventually, Malik Beasley hit a 3-pointer to get the Wolves to within a point, and after Devonte’ Graham split a pair of free throw attempts with under 10 seconds to play, D’Angelo Russell hit a game-tying floater.
After a Pelicans timeout, they inbounded the ball in to Jonas Valanciunas. It looked as if he wanted to hit Ingram on a backdoor cut and Josh Okogie overplayed it just a hair. Ingram slammed on the brakes and popped back out to the perimeter, and he knocked down a 27-footer after Valancuinas delivered the pass.
Player grades from Timberwolves’ road loss to the Pelicans
Let’s take a look at a few player grades from the Wolves’ loss to the Pels.
Malik Beasley: A-
18 points (6-10 FG, 6-8 3P), 4 rebounds
Malik Beasley finally came through. After a rough stretch of games following his return to the bench, Beasley started to come to life in Sunday’s blowout win over the Houston Rockets. But Tuesday was another thing entirely.
Beasley knocked down six of his eight long-range attempts and looked confident and prepared all game long. The only negative thing to say about his performance is that he recorded just four rebounds and exactly zero other statistics in 30 minutes of play, but that’s not necessarily a surprise.
Anthony Edwards: A-
28 points (10-21 FG, 6-12 3P, 2-2 FT), 5 assists, 4 rebounds, one steal
Edwards was relatively quiet for much of the game until the Wolves needed him in the fourth quarter. Ant, of course, showed up in a big way.
The 10-of-21 shooting and 6-of-12 from deep are fantastic. It’s a bit alarming that he only had two free throw attempts on 21 tries from the field, but that certainly isn’t entirely his fault. Edwards also had a couple of strong passes on drives to the rim as he continues to show improvement when it comes to playmaking.
Karl-Anthony Towns: B+
26 points (9-16 FG, 1-4 3P, 7-11 FT), 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, one block
Towns had a solid, if unspectacular, performance. He’s always struggled a bit with Jonas Valanciunas, and while this wasn’t the most challenging of their matchups, the level of physicality was far, far higher than say, Towns vs. Christian Wood on Sunday in Houston.
To his credit, KAT stayed out of foul trouble, and for the second consecutive game, wasn’t called for an offensive foul. Valanciunas did get his double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds, but Towns mostly held his own in the paint and showed his offensive versatility once again.
Jarred Vanderbilt: B
8 points (3-6 FG, 2-4 FT), 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks
This was an uncharacteristically quiet game from Vanderbilt. He was tasked with guarding Ingram from the opening tip and eventually fouled out in just 26 minutes, which obviously limited his impact significantly.
It was the first game since Dec. 8 in which Vanderbilt didn’t have seven or more rebounds, and his impact simply wasn’t felt at the level that it has been in recent weeks. Still, he managed a trio of steals and a pair of blocks and did a better job on Ingram than anyone else that head coach Chris Finch tried.
The Wolves head to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies, who extended their winning streak to 10 games after a win over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night.