The Minnesota Timberwolves fell flat on the second night of a back-to-back in a blowout loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in James Harden’s debut.
76ers’ backcourt dominates the Timberwolves in James Harden’s debut
The Timberwolves came into Friday night’s game riding the good vibes from Thursday’s win over the Memphis Grizzlies. But the vibes were stopped in their tracks by the new-look Philadelphia 76ers.
James Harden was in town, donning a Sixers jersey for the first time. He made his presence known, knocking down five 3-pointers en route to 27 points while dishing out 12 assists.
The game was competitive early, and even though the Sixers were able to build a nine-point lead prior to the second quarter, the Wolves pulled back to within a possession during the frame before Philadelphia closed the half strong, building a 16-point lead at the break.
The Wolves simply could not slow down the 76ers backcourt of Harden and Tyrese Maxey. Minnesota was put on their collective heels early in the game due to foul trouble; the home team committed 17 personal fouls in the first half alone, and to make matters even more difficult on the Wolves’ backcourt, Patrick Beverley was in foul trouble all evening.
The Sixers were the aggressors and dominated the free throw tally, wresting control of the game at the line and building separation from beyond the arc.
By the time the Wolves made things look more respectable in terms of free throw numbers, the damage had been done. The final tally? Philly made 10 more 3-pointers and nine more free throws over the course of the game.
Other than a couple of brief runs from the Wolves in the second half, the Sixers took care of business relatively easily after halftime, ultimately winning by 31 points.
Player grades from Timberwolves’ loss to Philadelphia 76ers
Let’s hand out a few player grades from this debacle.
Karl-Anthony Towns: B
25 points (8-19 FG, 2-6 3P, 7-7 FT), 7 rebounds, 3 assists
Towns was solid, and was probably the best player on the floor for the Wolves in this one. While his shooting wasn’t quite as on point, he got to the free throw line with frequency and made the right decision more often than not with the ball in his hands, only turning it over once and avoiding being whistled for any offensive fouls.
Towns was also better defensively than many of his teammates, navigating the Wolves’ ever-changing defensive schemes decently enough.
D’Angelo Russell: B
21 points (7-12 FG, 2-7 3P, 5-5 FT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists
Russell was once again quite efficient offensively but was carved up on the defensive end of the floor. Additionally, he was not able to provide much in terms of creating for his teammates.
D’Lo ended up playing just 28 minutes in the loss, in part because of his struggles on defense.
Anthony Edwards: C
15 points (5-13 FG, 1-6 3P, 4-6 FT), 5 assists, 3 rebounds, one steal, one block
Edwards’ recent swoon continued. Late in the third quarter, the second-year wing only had four points on his ledger. He suddenly went on a brief scoring burst, almost single-handedly getting the deficit back below 20 points.
But it was too little, too. late. Edwards simply has to get going earlier in games like this and can’t simply wait for something to go right for him before getting completely locked in.
Jaden McDaniels: B+
10 points (4-11 FG, 0-4 3P), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, one steal
The second-year forward continued his strong play of late, turning in 10 points and four rebounds off the bench. In a game in which Beverley was in foul trouble and the likes of Russell, Jordan McLaughlin, and Jarred Vanderbilt were struggling to stay in front defensively, McDaniels provided length and athleticism on that end of the floor.
If he could have knocked down a 3-pointer or two, his performance would have been exactly what the doctor ordered on a rough night for the Timberwolves.
Next up for the Timberwolves
The Wolves get the weekend off before heading back out on the road to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday evening at 6 p.m. CT.