The Minnesota Timberwolves were sorely in need of a win after a pair of deflating road losses late last week. They got one, courtesy of a Karl-Anthony Towns triple-double.
Karl-Anthony Towns triple-doubles Timberwolves to win over the Jazz
The Timberwolves defense faltered in a big way in Friday night’s loss to the Phoenix Suns. On Sunday, however, they locked down against a shorthanded Utah Jazz team en route to a 20-point win.
The Wolves’ offense got off to a slow start against Utah, not scoring their first points until more than three minutes into the game. But the defense was impressive against a Jazz team missing both Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.
Almost to a man, the Wolves’ perimeter defense was solid, fighting through screens at the point of attack and contesting jump shooters. Jazz starter Joe Ingles went down with what appeared to be a serious knee injury in the second quarter, further thinning Utah’s ranks.
Karl-Anthony Towns went off in the third quarter, scoring 16 consecutive points for the Wolves and 18 total in the frame. He scored in a variety of ways, including a pair of made 3-pointers, an old-fashioned 3-point play, and a ferocious putback dunk.
The Jazz double-teamed Towns on the catch in the mid-post for most of the game, and he picked them apart to the tune of 10 assists and only one turnover.
The Wolves pulled away in the fourth quarter, as Utah wasn’t able to get closer than 12 points in the final period.
Player grades from Timberwolves’ win over the Utah Jazz
Here are a few player grades from the Wolves win over the Jazz.
Karl-Anthony Towns: A
31 points (10-17 FG, 3-4 FG, 8-9 FT), 11 rebounds, 10 assists, 2 steals
Towns had a fantastic night on both ends of the floor. The Jazz double-teams did not work, and Towns was happy to dish assists to teammates on the perimeter and in the paint.
Towns was also efficient shooting the ball, knocking down three of his four 3-point attempts and 8-of-9 at the free throw line. The Wolves gave him the ball in the high and mid-post more frequently as the game went on, which made it more difficult for Utah to double him.
Towns was also effective when he had the ball in face-up situations on the perimeter, which was another situation in which the Jazz were unable to double-team the Wolves superstar.
Jaden McDaniels: A
22 points (9-9 FG, 3-3 3P, 1-1 FT), 4 assists, 2 rebounds
Wolves head coach Chris Finch adjusted the starting lineup, putting Jaden McDaniels and Jaylen Nowell off the bench and inserting Malik Beasley and Jordan McLaughlin in the starting lineup.
It jump-started McDaniels, who ended up playing 27 minutes off the bench and shooting a perfect 9-of-9 from the field, including knocking down all three of his long-range attempts. He was one of the main beneficiaries of Towns’ pass-happy performance, both on the perimeter and as a cutter.
McDaniels also put the ball on the floor and attacked a couple of times, including a breathtaking baseline dunk.
Anthony Edwards: C
15 points (6-16 FG, 2-9 3P, 1-1 FT), 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 5 turnovers
Edwards had a few impressive drives to the basket early in the game, but he interspersed several 3-point attempts that were simply poor decisions. He was loose with the ball and settled for jumpers far too often. It simply wasn’t his best performance.
Taurean Prince: A
10 points (4-5 FG, 2-3 3P), 7 rebounds, 2 steals, one assist
Prince had a great game off the bench, including a strong stretch early in the fourth quarter. He converted a couple of catch-and-shoot 3-point opportunities and hit a tough mid-range jumper.
Importantly, he pitched in on the glass in a game in which the Wolves only won the rebound battle by two on the night.
The Wolves will play two consecutive games at Target Center for the first time since Dec. 27 and 28 as they play host to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night.