The Minnesota Timberwolves faltered down the stretch and fell to the new-look Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center.
Defense struggles, offense falters late in Timberwolves’ loss to Kings
The Timberwolves came into Wednesday night’s game with a five-game winning streak, and they had just beaten these same Sacramento Kings just 24 hours prior.
However, reinforcements arrived for the home team, with Domantas Sabonis, Justin Holiday, and Jeremy Lamb all arriving following their acquisition from the Indiana Pacers. They each played at least 30 minutes and energized the Kings and their fans in their team debut.
Early on, the Wolves brought their own energy. Minnesota scored 37 points in the first quarter and took an eight-point lead into the second frame. Anthony Edwards was fantastic early, scoring 14 in the first quarter.
But the Wolves’ bench unit scuffled after turning in an impressive performance on Tuesday. The issues started early, with the defense struggling mightily and the offense failing to keep pace.
By the time the Wolves’ starters came back onto the floor midway through the second quarter, what had been a double-digit lead had turned into a tie game. The Kings outscored the Wolves by a 42-27 margin in the second quarter, and Minnesota trailed by seven points at the break.
The third quarter went much more smoothly for the Wolves, as they used a 13-3 run keyed by D’Angelo Russell to take back a brief lead. Russell himself scored 13 points in the frame, and the Wolves were up by a score of 101-99 (see, plenty of defense being played…) heading into the final frame.
When Karl-Anthony Towns re-entered the game after his fourth-quarter rest, it was a tie game with just over seven minutes to play. It was still tied with 4:34 to play, but a quick 9-0 run by the Kings put the WOlves in a hole that they could not dig out of.
Minnesota’s offensive execution was suddenly horrible, with Russell forcing tough shots, and Town and Edwards missing relatively open ones. The defense was equally as bad, and the Kings ran away with things in short order.
Player grades from Timberwolves loss to Sacramento Kings
Let’s hand out a few player grades from the disappointing loss.
Karl-Anthony Towns: B+
21 points (9-17 FG, 1-4 3P, 2-2 FT), 8 assists, 7 rebounds, one block
Towns was quiet early. He had zero rebounds at halftime and didn’t hit double-figures in scoring until late in the third quarter.
At the same time, KAT largely made the proper decisions with the ball in his hands. He had only three turnovers compared to eight assists in 34 minutes. After picking up his third foul in the second quarter, Towns managed to play the entire second half without ever picking up his fourth.
The Wolves could have used a few more touches for Towns; the Kings could not slow down his drives from the perimeter. Towns wasn’t very good defensively, either — but then again, neither were any of his teammates.
D’Angelo Russell: B
29 points (10-20 FG, 6-13 3P, 3-4 FT), 10 assists, 4 rebounds, one steal, one block
It’s hard to hand out a ‘B’ grade for a 29-and-10 line. But Russell did not play well with this game in the balance.
For as good as he was for the first 3-plus quarters, D’Lo turned into a pumpkin down the stretch. The decision-making was poor, and the shooting matched. After completing a multitude of impressive, flashy passes for much of the game, Russell was mostly concerned with getting his own shot off late in the game.
The Wolves’ point-of-attack was miserable across the board, but Russell was a clear culprit there, too.
Anthony Edwards: C+
26 points (10-25 FG, 3-9 3P, 3-4 FT), one rebound, one assist, one block
Edwards played much better on Wednesday than he did on Tuesday. So there’s that.
But 26 points on 25 shots isn’t exactly efficient, and Edwards only mustered a single rebound in a game-high 38 minutes. This was a game, by the way, in which the Wolves were outrebounded by a whopping 17 boards.
Edwards’ decision-making took a hit in this one, too. It just wasn’t a good all-around game for the Wolves’ second-year star.
Jaden McDaniels: B+
13 points (5-8 FG, 3-6 3P), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, one steal
This was a solid game for McDaniels, who continues to figure out what his role should be on this team. This game was a great example of what head coach Chris Finch wants to see out of his lanky forward, as McDaniels stepped up and knocked down open 3-point opportunities, primary off of passes from Towns. He was active as a cutter, too.
The Wolves head off to Chicago to take on Zach LaVine and the Chicago Bulls on Friday night.