Player grades from Minnesota Timberwolves’ road win over Miami Heat

Miami Heat guard Gabe Vincent covers Minnesota Timberwolves guard D'Angelo Russell. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Miami Heat guard Gabe Vincent covers Minnesota Timberwolves guard D'Angelo Russell. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Karl-Anthony Towns
Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns protects the ball from Miami Heat forward P.J. Tucker. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves bounced back after a disappointing loss in Orlando on Friday with an impressive, come-from-behind win in South Beach on Saturday night.

The Minnesota Timberwolves use balanced attack to beat the Heat

The biggest difference between this year’s Minnesota Timberwolves and the losing teams of the last decade-and-a-half is that the current iteration has the talent and cohesion to take a punch in the mouth and come back swinging.

Don’t get it wrong, there have been plenty of occasions this season when this group has lost its composure when things weren’t going their way. That threatened to happen in Miami Saturday night when foul frustration took Minnesota out of its game, but a renewed focus in the second half was the key factor in the Wolves earning a crucial 113-104 win on the second night of a tough back-to-back.

Three quick fouls for Karl-Anthony Towns and sloppiness on both ends of the court turned a healthy Minnesota lead into a 12-point deficit at the half, as the Wolves’ angst with officials manifested in the form of turnovers and open Miami shooters.

However, Minnesota came out of the break much more assured, harassing the Heat’s offense and turning the opportunities into scores in winning the third quarter 34-19.

That set the stage for a back-and-forth final period in which seemingly every Timberwolf made a huge play. Towns had some crucial defensive contests without fouling while Anthony Edwards hit a big three and made some dirty work defensive plays of his own. D’Angelo Russell and Jaden McDaniels got on the offensive glass, and Naz Reid filled in well when Towns was out.

No one came in more clutch, though, than Malik Beasley on his corner three with 50 seconds left to put Minnesota up five. That gave way to more defensive stops and free throws as the Wolves dominated the stretch run against Miami for the second time in their sweep of the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference.

“The shot before I hit the side of the backboard, so my mindset was just ‘I’m hitting the next shot,’” Beasley said on Wolves Live Postgame.

The team effort was reflected in the box score, too; eight Wolves scored in double-figures, but none put up more than Jaylen Nowell’s 16 points. Everyone stepped up in turning the defensive woes of the first half on their head, limiting the Heat to 37 second-half points and 39.8 percent shooting for the game.

Most importantly, the team rebounded from the shot it took in a disappointing loss in Orlando one night prior.

“Really proud of the guys, we challenged them hard this morning,” head coach Chris Finch said. “They responded, they owned last night, they wanted to be better today, they knew they had to be better today… Everybody came in and gave us something.”

Karl-Anthony Towns gets an incomplete grade for the night because of the foul-reduced minutes. Let’s look at how some other Timberwolves fared in taking on more responsibility.