The Minnesota Timberwolves won on the second night of a back-to-back for the first time this season as they pulled away from the Golden State Warriors in the fourth quarter.
Karl-Anthony Towns scores 39 points in Timberwolves’ win over Warriors
The Timberwolves’ struggles on the second night of back-to-back sets has been well-documented. Add in the fact that they had to travel after Monday’s win in Cleveland and take on a rested Golden State Warriors team that sits second in the Western Conference, and Tuesday’s game seemed as though it could easily be a bleak affair.
But the Warriors would be without Klay Thompson, who was sidelined with a non-COVID illness. Draymond Green still isn’t back, and James Wiseman hasn’t played in a game since last season. Old friend Nemanja Bjelica sat out, too.
Tipping things back to the other side of the ledger, however: Anthony Edwards missed his first-ever NBA game due to injury, as the lingering knee issue was enough to convince the Wolves to let him sit out and gain three consecutive days of rest before the Wolves play again on Friday.
The Wolves came out slowly, and it wasn’t until Stephen Curry headed to the bench for a rest that Minnesota wrested control of the game. They never looked back, either, as Karl-Anthony Towns dominated proceedings both inside and out.
The Wolves built a 12-point lead by halftime, with Towns leading the way and D’Angelo Russell putting on a scoring clinic late in the second quarter.
The lead grew further in the third quarter before Curry and Co. came roaring back, pulling to within six points multiple times in the second half. Ultimately, however, a Draymond-less Golden State defense simply had no answer for Towns’ brilliance.
KAT helped the Wolves pull away late, and Curry headed to the bench for good just after the midway point in the fourth quarter.
In general, the Wolves’ half-court defense and transition offense were a big reason for the victory. The Wolves also shot 40 percent on 3-point attempts, compared to the Warriors’ uncharacteristic 28.9 percent mark.
Player grades from Timberwolves’ win over the Warriors
Time to hand out a few player grades from the Wolves’ win.
Karl-Anthony Towns: A
39 points (14-22 FG, 3-6 3P, 8-11 FT), 9 rebounds, one assist
Towns was an absolute monster. Early, he dominated in the post, as the Warriors tried defending him with much smaller players and hesitated to bring true double-teams. Golden State also tried zone, and Towns picked them apart in that defense, too.
Eventually, KAT headed to the perimeter and picked his spots, shooting jumpers when the defense sagged off of him and driving to the rim when they played him tighter. Towns showed off just how versatile his game is in this one, and the Warriors didn’t have a prayer to stop him.
D’Angelo Russell: B+
22 points (8-17 FG, 2-7 3P, 4-4 FT), 7 assists, 2 steals, 4 turnovers
Russell had a great stretch in the middle stages of the game that was vital to the Wolves’ building a double-digit lead. He shot the ball well enough outside the paint and got to the rim several times.
The only real blemish was the turnovers, a couple of which were extremely sloppy. But Russell’s strong play has continued of late, and he was a big part of this win.
Malik Beasley: A
20 points (7-11 FG, 6-9 3P), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, one steal
Beasley had his second straight strong performance after missing Friday’s blowout loss to the Philadelphia 76ers due to a non-COVID illness.
He was a flamethrower in this one, looking much more like the Beasley that Wolves fans grew to love in 2020 and into early 2021. What he can bring to the table for Minnesota’s bench unit is vital to the Wolves’ overall success, and if he’s playing like this — shooting threes confidently and at a greater-than-40-percent clip — then the Wolves are going to be able to outscore virtually everyone.
Jordan McLaughlin: A-
3 points (1-6 FG, 1-3 3P), 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists
No, the statline isn’t sexy. But Jordan McLaughlin was fantastic in this game.
McLaughlin was arguably the Wolves’ best defender, bothering the Warriors backcourt at every turn and making life difficult on anyone with the ball in their hands. He added three steals and five rebounds for good measure and was generally solid on offense as well.
Next up for the Timberwolves…
The Wolves have the next two days off before heading down I-35 to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder on the front end of yet another back-to-back set.