The Minnesota Timberwolves held a lead for much of the game before ultimately holding on to secure a home win over the Brooklyn Nets.
Timberwolves use balanced attack to defeat the Brooklyn Nets
The last time the Timberwolves played, they fell apart in the third quarter against the Atlanta Hawks. They had three full days to think about it, and came out ready to play Sunday on their home floor against the Brooklyn Nets.
The Wolves dropped 37 in the first quarter as D’Angelo Russell put together another masterful performance, perfectly orchestrating the offense while balancing scoring and distributing.
Unfortunately, the Wolves also gave up 36 points to the Nets in the frame and took just a one-point lead into the second quarter. But Minnesota’s second unit dominated the Nets’ reserves, led by Jaylen Nowell and Taurean Prince.
Anthony Edwards came back into the game and played a part in the Wolves’ offensive fireworks, helping to stretch the lead to 10 by halftime.
The third quarter was again the Wolves’ worst frame, but thankfully, they had stretched the lead to 14 points before the Nets went on a 7-0 run of their own. It was a seven-point heading into the fourth quarter.
Karl-Anthony Towns only had three points on his ledger late in the third quarter, but from that point forward, KAT completely outplayed the Net’s frontcourt. LaMarcus Aldridge fouled out before the fourth quarter was halfway over, and James Johnson followed shortly behind after being asked to try to guard Towns.
Towns missed his first five long-range attempts in the game but made one after a sideline out-of-bounds play, and it sparked him. He made another 3-pointer and scored a couple of baskets in the post, mixing in trips to the free throw line for good measure.
The Wolves put the game out of reach, and the lead was 14 points with just over a minute to play when Anthony Edwards appeared to knock knees with a Nets player just prior to leaving the game. He limped to the sideline and was eventually helped to the locker room with a towel over his head, but head coach Chris Finch reported postgame that Edwards told him he was fine, and other reports appear to suggest some confidence that the injury wasn’t as serious as it immediately appeared.
Player grades from Timberwolves’ win over the Brooklyn Nets
Let’s look at some player grades from the Wolves’ win over the Nets.
D’Angelo Russell: A
23 points (7-13 FG, 2-6 3P, 7-7 FT), 10 assists, 5 rebounds, one steal
Russell had yet another strong game. He pulled the right levers and pushed the right buttons throughout the game, but especially early as he helped the Wolves get off to a strong start offensively.
Even while his jumper cooled off just a bit as the game wore on, Russell’s decision-making was still on point. He only turned the ball over twice in 31 minutes, compared to 10 assists.
Karl-Anthony Towns: B+
23 points (7-18 FG, 2-7 3P, 7-9 FT), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
For as quiet as Towns’ performance was for much of the first three quarters, he played hard and was in the thick of things in the paint on both ends of the floor. He had a strong defensive game, and made all the right reads on offense.
Late in the game, Towns took over. It was sorely needed, too, as it was right when the Nets began to think they had a chance to steal the result from the Wolves, but Minnesota’s star big man slammed the door on Brooklyn’s frontcourt.
Anthony Edwards: A-
25 points (8-17 FG, 4-8 3P, 5-6 FT), 4 assists, 2 steals, one rebound
Edwards started strong, scoring in a variety of ways, including getting to the free throw line. While he didn’t help the cause much at all on the glass, he was strong in virtually every phase, including making smart decisions with the ball in his hands and dishing out four assists.
Jaylen Nowell: A
16 points (6-9 FG, 1-1 3P, 3-3 FT), 3 assists, 2 rebounds
Nowell was the backup point guard in this one with Patrick Beverley out due to a sprained ankle and Jordan McLaughlin still working to regain his conditioning after missing time on the health and safety protocols list.
Once again, Nowell was fantastic when it came to running the offense. He handed out three assists and only committed one turnover in 22 minutes of play. Some of it came next to Russell, but much of it saw Nowell have the ball in his hands, and his decision-making skills and all-around poise continue to impress.
Taurean Prince: A
15 points (6-6 FG, 2-2 3P, 1-1 FT)
Prince deserves a shoutout, going a perfect 6-for-6 from the field in 20 minutes of play. He didn’t have a single other counting stat — no rebounds, no assists, no steals, no blocks — but his scoring and efficiency as a reserve was, literally, perfect.
The Timberwolves are off on Monday before heading west to take on the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday as they look to finally get back above the .500 mark.