The Minnesota Timberwolves struggled on both ends of the floor for much of the game, but Karl-Anthony Towns took over down the stretch and the Wolves managed to pull away in overtime.
Karl-Anthony Towns drops 39 and 15 in Timberwolves’ win
The Timberwolves are officially back on track, canceling out last week’s two-game losing streak with a pair of consecutive wins. They’ve now won seven of their last nine games and are once again four games above .500.
The Wolves returned back home after a four-game road trip, and Target Center didn’t disappoint. The energy was there from the start, and the Wolves responded by taking a 19-7.
But the home team’s defense eventually slowed down, and the Hornets did enough to throw a wrench in the Wolves’ inconsistent offensive attack. Charlotte was the more physical team, controlling the glass and forcing the officials to blow their whistles.
It worked, and the Hornets, who only used eight players in the game, outplayed the Wolves bench with ease in the second quarter. The visitors took a six-point lead to halftime as the Wolves struggled mightily from the field and from the free throw line.
Anthony Edwards injured his ankle at some point in the second quarter and was ruled out by the Wolves at halftime, although he stayed on the bench and didn’t appear to be too worse for the wear.
The Wolves shooting struggles continued into the second half, and Charlotte’s lead was up to nine points at the start of the final frame.
But then, Karl-Anthony Towns suddenly took over, knocking down deep 3-pointers, blocking shots, ripping down rebounds, and pump-faking from the perimeter to set-up drives to the rim. It was a true all-around performance from the All-Star big man, and the Hornets had no answer.
Still, the Wolves’ free throw shooting and spotty defense reared their ugly head once again down the stretch. Charlotte tied the game with nine seconds to play, but poor execution from D’Angelo Russell led to a deep, air-balled 3-point attempt at the end of regulation.
Overtime was more of Towns, plus some fantastic defense from Patrick Beverley and Jaden McDaniels. The Wolves quickly took over, and while the Hornets hung around and made things interesting, the extra session was largely controlled by the home team.
While the Wolves shot a horrific 39.5 percent from the field, 23.6 percent from beyond the arc, and 62.8 percent from the free throw line, they still managed to will themselves to the win. Even if it was far from perfect and, oftentimes, downright ugly, it counts. And the Wolves will happily take it.
Player grades from the Timberwolves’ win over the Hornets
Let’s grade out a few Wolves players from the win.
Karl-Anthony Towns: A+
39 points (12-26 FG, 4-11 3P, 11-13 FT), 15 rebounds, 3 assists, one steal, one block
Towns was absolutely fantastic, showing off the insane versatility of his game.
The Wolves superstar scored at every level. Finch put the ball in his hands on the perimeter, and the Hornets played so far off of him that Towns was able to launch 11 3-point attempts — the first time he’s attempted more than four long-range attempts in a game since Jan. 28 at Phoenix.
When the Hornets pressed up, Towns blew past the defense and scored at the rim, drawing fouls with frequency. He also consistently made the right read, not over-passing and not committing offensive fouls at a high rate.
The Wolves would have lost this game by double-figures if Towns had not taken over in the second half. He was that good.
Jaden McDaniels: A-
18 points (7-14 FG, 1-6 3P, 3-4 FT), 6 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists, 2 blocks
Remember when Chris Finch compared Jaden McDaniels to Scottie Pippen over the summer? Crazy, sure, but this was a Pippen-esque performance.
It was well-rounded, with McDaniels pitching in everywhere. He shot 6-for-8 on 2-point attempts, including a couple of beautiful backdoor cuts featuring dimes from Russell. McDaniels was great defensively, eventually being asked to guard LaMelo Ball and doing an admirable job.
He continues to improve at picking his spots offensively. Put simply, the Wolves will take a line like this one from McDaniels every single night of the week.
Patrick Beverley: B+
15 points (5-12 FG, 1-8 3P, 4-8 FT), 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks
Patrick Beverley turned in an odd, yet unshockingly effective performance.
While he shot just 1-for-8 from beyond the arc, missed four free throws, and fouled out, he also shot a perfect 4-for-4 on 2-point field goals, finished third on the team with seven rebounds, and pitched in three steals and two blocks on defense.
Beverley was his typically active self, encouraging the crowd throughout the night, ripping down difficult rebounds, and providing invaluable ball defense late in the fourth quarter and overtime.
There’s a reason the Wolves added a year onto this man’s contract.
Malik Beasley: F
0 points (0-5 FG, 0-4 3P), one rebound, 14 minutes
There isn’t much to say here, other than that it was a miserable performance for Beasley. He missed all of his shot attempts, including a couple of wide-open 3-point attempts and a shot at the rim in transition.
Beasley contributed nothing in any of the other categories, either, and struggled defensively. He was a team-worst -12 in the plus-minus column.
Next up for the Timberwolves…
The Wolves turn around and play host to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday in the final contest prior to All-Star Weekend.