The Minnesota Timberwolves fought until the final minutes but lost 116-108 on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night.
Player grades from Timberwolves’ late loss to the Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis won their 11th consecutive game, coming back from a 60-53 halftime deficit.
Minnesota’s Big Three of Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, and D’Angelo Russell combined for 84 points, but no other Wolves player reached double figures in the loss. The Timberwolves fell to 20-22 after the disappointing finish.
D’Angelo Russell Player Grade: A-
29 points (11/19 FG, 6/11 3PFG, 1/2 FT), 6 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 block, 2 turnovers
Minnesota jumped out to a 10-2 lead and Russell was the clear catalyst behind that quick start.
He had seven points in two minutes as the Timberwolves made their first four shots. Towns wasn’t aggressive at all early on so the Minnesota backcourt stepped up and combined for 21 points on 4/6 from 3-point range in the first quarter. Russell controlled the tempo and kept the Timberwolves within striking distance even when Memphis went on multiple runs.
The lefty point guard also knocked down a crucial 3-pointer in the corner to tie it 98-98 with 7:00 left in the game before putting the Timberwolves up a point with a smooth scoop and score.
Memphis answered with a 7-0 run to put the game out of reach though as Russell ended up fouling out with 20.6 seconds remaining. He wasn’t able to push the team to a victory but Russell finished with 29 points, six assists, and three rebounds in a solid showing.
Karl-Anthony Towns Player Grade: B+
25 points (11/17 FG, 2/6 3PFG, 1/1 FT), 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal, 4 turnovers
With the backcourt carrying the scoring load in the first quarter, Towns mostly floated around the perimeter.
He had just two points and two rebounds in the opening period, despite playing the entire 12 minutes. Jaren Jackson Jr. was also making Towns work on defense, putting up a team-high 11 points at the break. Following a quiet start, the Timberwolves big man finally got going down the stretch and almost pushed his team to a narrow win.
Towns drilled a triple to bring Minnesota within three points midway through the fourth quarter before tying the game at 100 with a tough putback over multiple defenders. He then scored six straight points to give the Timberwolves a one-point lead in the final minutes but it just wasn’t enough as Brandon Clarke responded with a clutch tip-in and two free throws.
Towns took a little too long to find his rhythm and that might have been the difference in the close road loss.
Anthony Edwards Player Grade: B
30 points (9/20 FG, 5/11 3PFG, 7/7 FT), 4assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 3 turnovers
Edwards came into the game averaging 25.0 points on 53 percent shooting in two matchups against Memphis this season, and somehow matched that in the first half tonight. He went for 13 points on 5-of-5 from the free throw line in the first quarter as Minnesota led 31-25. The sophomore guard then had an impressive steal and 3-pointer to put the Timberwolves up 44-42 with 6:43 left in the second quarter. He was nearly unguardable early on as Memphis searched for answers.
Edwards had 25 points in the first half with Minnesota leading 60-53.
After showing out with his third 25-point half of the season, Edwards just wasn’t able to keep up the same pace in the second half. He made only one bucket in the third quarter and was just as quiet in the final minutes as Memphis pulled ahead. Edwards also had a costly turnover late as he tried to find Russell at the top of the key. Desmond Bane intercepted the pass and extended the Grizzlies lead to 109-106 with a layup on the other end.
Russell looked to be open for a moment but Edwards wasn’t able to get enough on the pass and Bane took advantage of the mistake. John Konchar went on to hit a wide-open 3-pointer to put Memphis up 112-106 and clinch an 11th straight win. Edwards had a phenomenal first half but fluttered later on and failed to make winning plays in the fourth quarter. He will continue to learn from missed opportunities and will hope to right the ship next time out.
The Timberwolves, who have lost two straight following a four-game win streak, will look to get back on track against the Golden State Warriors at home on Sunday. Minnesota lost their only meeting against Golden State this season but Edwards scored a jaw-dropping 48 points in the 123-110 loss.
Chris Finch will look to have his team ready to go as one of the Western Conference’s top contenders comes into the Target Center this weekend.