The Minnesota Timberwolves dominated the Golden State Warriors behind Karl-Anthony Towns and an impressive performance by the Wolves’ reserve guards.
Timberwolves pull away in the second half to blow out the Warriors
The Warriors came to Target Center without Steph Curry and Draymond Green on Sunday, but the No. 2 team in the Western Conference still had their No. 2 and No. 3 scorers available, plus Klay Thompson in his fourth game back from injury. The Wolves were only 4.5-point favorites, after all.
But after a closely-played first half that saw the Wolves carry a modest lead into the middle stages of the third quarter, the Warriors led by four points late in the frame.
From that point forward, Jaylen Nowell and Malik Beasley took over. They combined to score 16 of the next 18 points for the Wolves, propelling them to a 10-point lead by the end of the third and a 20-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
Along with Jaden McDaniels and Naz Reid, the Wolves bench ensured that head coach Chris Finch didn’t need to put his starters back into the game as things got out of reach in short order.
Andrew Wiggins only managed 12 points on 11 shots in his return to Target Center. The Warriors struggled mightily from the field, shooting only 39 percent on the night and 31 percent from beyond the arc.
The Wolves defense was a big reason for the Warriors’ shooting issues, especially in the second half. They scrambled effectively and were crisp in their rotations, playing solid defense all over the court and cleaning the glass as well.
Even though the Warriors’ lineup was depleted, it was an impressive win for the Wolves, especially coming on the heels of a pair of disappointing losses.
Player grades from Timberwolves’ home win over Warriors
Let’s look at a few player grades from the Timberwolves victory.
Jaylen Nowell: A
17 points (6-9 FG, 3-5 3P, 2-4 FT), 4 assists, 2 rebounds, one block
Nowell was good in the first half, but he was phenomenal in the second half. He played point guard for the final three minutes of the third quarter and the first 10 minutes of the fourth and led the Wolves on an extended 36-14 run without either Patrick Beverley or D’Angelo Russell on the floor.
Nowell had the perfect balance of distributing the ball to teammates and calling his own number and continues to show that he’s coming into his own as a legitimate option for initiating offense.
Karl-Anthony Towns: A-
26 points (11-20 FG, 1-6 3P, 3-5 FT), 11 rebounds, two blocks, one assist
Towns did all of his damage in the paint, keying the Wolves’ attack against a Warriors team that is typically solid down low. But Towns was too much for Golden State, shooting 10-of-14 inside the arc, pulling down four offensive rebounds, and earning five old-fashioned 3-point play opportunities.
It was a rugged performance from Towns, who fought through plenty of contact and physical play from the Warriors to still put together an efficient and effective game. Even though the bench unit will get a bunch of attention, and rightfully so, let’s not lose sight of Towns’ strong showing.
Malik Beasley: A-
16 points (5-10 FG, 5-9 3P, 1-1 FT), 3 assists, 2 rebounds
This was probably Beasley’s best game in the past month. He made four of his five 3-pointers as the Wolves re-took the lead for good late in the third quarter and built a 20-plus-point lead early in the fourth.
If Beasley’s confidence can grow and he builds on this performance, the Wolves will have an element that they’ve been sorely missing to this point — an above-average shooting threat to complement their Big Three. It would completely change the dynamic of the offense, and in this particular game, with two-thirds of the Big Three struggling offensively, Beasley’s performance was sorely needed.
The Wolves head back out on the road to take on the New York Knicks on Tuesday. Here’s to getting back to the .500 mark and a pair of road wins against the Eastern Conference!