The Minnesota Timberwolves six-game winning streak was snapped in humbling fashion in a loss to the Orlando Magic on Friday night.
Timberwolves sunk by foul issues, hot shooting from the Magic
The Wolves arrived in Florida as winners of six consecutive games. Friday night against the Orlando Magic was supposed to be the easiest of the pair of games, with the second night of a back-to-back on Saturday bringing a matchup against the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat.
Things did not play out favorably for the Wolves, however, as the defense struggled early and the offense struggled late in a disappointing loss.
The Wolves shot the lights out from deep in the first quarter, knocking in seven of their 11 long-range attempts. But they couldn’t keep their hands off the Magic on the other end of the floor, allowing the home team to get into the bonus before five minutes had passed on the clock.
That allowed the Magic to hang around, and as the game wore on, the Wolves’ jump shots stopped falling and they failed to control the glass.
Orlando didn’t take their first lead until early in the fourth quarter, but by that point, the Wolves looked as though they were resigned to their fate. Minnesota failed to pull any closer than three points down the stretch, missing multiple chances to tie the game from deep.
Ultimately, this was a tale of two halves for the Wolves: poor defense and lots of fouling early, and poor offense and missed shots late. A disappointing end to the winning streak with the Heat looming on Saturday night.
Player grades from Timberwolves’ road loss to the Orlando Magic
Let’s hand out some player grades from this debacle of a game.
Karl-Anthony Towns: B+
21 points (6-14 FG, 1-5 3P, 8-8 FT), 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
Karl-Anthony Towns was the best player on the floor for the Timberwolves in this one, but it was far from a perfect performance for the superstar big man.
Towns struggled to stay on the floor, picking up his third personal foul before the end of the first quarter and his fourth in the final 30 seconds of the second frame. It impacted the way he was able to defend and how head coach Chris Finch managed his rotation. Towns also committed three turnovers and struggled with his jumper.
Collectively, those shortcomings, along with the team’s loss ruined a night that also saw KAT convert a pair of phenomenal, and-one poster dunks.
Anthony Edwards: B+
25 points (9-19 FG, 4-11 3P, 3-3 FT), 5 assists, 3 rebounds, one steal
This was easily Edwards’ best game since the All-Star break. He poured in 25 points with relative ease and looked far more like the version of Ant that we saw earlier this season.
After finding some success from beyond the 3-point line, Edwards did fall back into settling a bit too much with the jumper against favorable one-on-one matchups. Generally speaking, however, it was a strong offensive performance, supported by a strong 5-to-0 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Malik Beasley: C-
8 points (3-12 FG, 2-9 3P), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals
After scorching the nets at Target Center on Wednesday night with a franchise-record 11 made 3-pointers, Beasley came crashing back to earth on Friday night in Orlando.
He shot just 2-of-9 from beyond the arc, and while the other categories in the box score were a bit more full than we’re used to seeing from Beasley, it was more due to his minutes bump — Malik played 32 minutes due to Jordan McLaughlin not dressing due to injury and Patrick Beverley getting injured with an ear contusion only four minutes into the game.
D’Angelo Russell: C+
13 points (4-12 FG, 3-8 3P, 2-2 FT), 7 assists, 2 rebounds
Russell was asked to play a team-high 39 minutes in this one due to the absence of both McLaughlin and Beverley, and he struggled to get anything going offensively. He wasn’t aggressive off the dribble and was more than content to float on the perimeter, looking for opportunities to pull the trigger behind high ball screens.
Russell also struggled a bit defensively, but he wasn’t alone in that regard when it came to the Wolves’ perimeter players.
Up next for the Timberwolves
The Wolves head further south to take on the Miami Heat on Saturday night. The Heat lead the Eastern Conference with a 45-23 record.