The Minnesota Timberwolves’ perfect 7-0 record at home came to a screeching halt as the team fell 124-111 to the Sacramento Kings on Friday night. The Kings came out of the gates shooting the net of the rim, as they connected on eight of their first 12 three-point attempts. Sacramento’s hot shooting was the storyline in what turned out to be a very teachable loss for the Timberwolves.
The Kings rely heavily on their offensive ability, especially from beyond the arc, as they have tallied north of 120 points in 8 of the team’s first 15 games this year and rank 11th in offensive efficiency. On the other end of the spectrum is the Memphis Grizzlies — Minnesota’s succeeding opponent — who have been held under 100 points over their last three games and own the third-worst offense in the NBA entering Sunday’s contest.
Not only are Grizzlies missing Ja Morant -- 10g left on 25g suspension -- they're also without...— Alan Horton (@WolvesRadio) November 26, 2023
MIN has not fared well here in Memphis having lost 7 straight & 22 of 25 since 2009.
5:10 PM tip.
The Timberwolves marched off the plane in Memphis Saturday night with one mission: to get back on track and beat up a much lesser opponent. However, three hours before tip-off, the Wolves announced a potential wrinkle in the master plan.
Anthony Edwards has been downgraded to QUESTIONABLE for tonight's game in Memphis due to upper back spasms.— Charlie Walton (@CharlieWaltonMN) November 26, 2023
Game-day downgrades are never a good thing. The original report said he was OUT, but then they switched his availability to questionable.
When a player’s status is downgraded from active to questionable/doubtful on the day of a game, that player rarely plays. But we have seen this in the past with Edwards; he is not one to miss games, and that held serve again, as Ant was in the starting lineup and good to go by the 5:10 PM CT tip-off at FedEx Forum.
The Timberwolves jumped out of the gates with a picture-perfect start, as they dropped 15 straight points on 6-of-6 from the floor, which led Memphis’ Head Coach Taylor Jenkins to waste two timeouts within the first three minutes of the game.
OFF AND RUNNING pic.twitter.com/J1pbk4AHbg— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) November 26, 2023
Following Memphis’ second timeout, the Minneapolis native David Roddy was inserted off the bench. He gave Memphis a spark with a corner triple and an off-the-dribble and-one, which initiated a 10-2 run by the Grizzlies as they pulled back within two points after the Wolves took an early 12-point lead.
Considering their hot start, the Wolves’ five-point advantage after the first frame felt like a letdown. Roddy’s scoring burst was able to pump some energy into the home crowd and allowed the Grizzlies to settle into somewhat of a groove. However, the banged-up Anthony Edwards was able to keep the momentum on Minnesota’s side with his eight timely first-quarter points on 4-of-6 from the floor.
The tail of the second quarter was 3-point shooting. The Timberwolves caught fire from beyond as they shot 4-of-7 from deep, while the Grizzlies went a stone-cold 0-of-8. Mike Conley’s scoring total grew to 12, with all of his made buckets coming from beyond 23 feet. Troy Brown Jr. also contributed two triples in the period, which was incredibly refreshing to see after he opened the season by connecting on 2 of his first 15 attempted deep balls.
Heading into the locker room after 24 minutes, Minnesota was up 60-43 and did what was expected from the jump — beat up on a lesser opponent. However, not everything was perfect. Naz Reid, Rudy Gobert, and Towns picked up three fouls in the first half.
Aside from some foul issues, the Wolves were handling business and appeared to be cruising to yet another win while keeping the Grizzlies winless on their home turf.
Of course, reminders of that second-half collapse in Atlanta come to mind, but this depleted Memphis squad doesn’t seem to have the star power to climb out of the grave the Wolves dug for them.
Desmond Bane shoulder checks Naz Reid in transition, things get a bit heated. Both get technical fouls, Bane called for a Flagrant 1. pic.twitter.com/gej80rwWhw— AlexHoops (@AlexHoops_) November 27, 2023
The most exciting moment of the second quarter came via a dust-up between Desmond Bane and Reid. Bane, or as crew chief Sean Wright said, “Banes,” body-checked Reid as both of them ran back in transition. For some reason, Reid was whistled for a technical foul, and “Banes” received a tech plus a flagrant foul penalty one.
The Wolves got careless as the never-ending third quarter was finally winding down, prompting Minnesota’s Head Coach Chris Finch to eat up two timeouts in less than a two-minute span. However, Edwards made some key plays against former Wolves guard Jaylen Nowell, who signed a 10-day hardship exception deal with the Grizzlies, to keep Minnesota’s lead at a comfortable margin.
Heading into the final frame of a mundane game, the Wolves were up 90-66. However, the still gritty Grizzlies weren’t going to roll over and give up.
During last timeout Marcus Smart screaming at his teammates “it’s embarrassing, it’s embarrassing” among other things. pic.twitter.com/fiKziJYOmG— Alan Horton (@WolvesRadio) November 27, 2023
Memphis went on a run to open the fourth, which seemed to be fueled by an energized and colorful Marcus Smart pep talk, as it was evident that Minnesota’s starters/rotational players seemed ready for this unnecessarily physical game to be over with. Memphis had a 26-point deficit down to 12 with 5:49 remaining. The hometown crowd was once again re-energized, and Finch was displeased as he signaled yet another timeout. Again, it was hard to see the Grizzlies coming all the way back to win, as they were down seven rotational players. However, that’s precisely what made their little fourth-quarter push that much more frustrating.
Following Finchy’s much-needed timeout, the Timberwolves outscored Memphis 17-6 the rest of the way and ended up cruising to the blowout win we were all expecting.
In other news, today is Leonard Miller’s 20th birthday, and thanks to the Wolves’ rotational players doing what they were supposed to, Miller was able to record his first points in a regular season NBA game.
A Sweet Mike Conley Homecoming
Heading into the game, Mike Conley was coming off two contests where the veteran floor general connected on just two field goals each. Conley is a player who is very unproblematic offensively. He doesn’t need to be the beneficiary of any offensive sets to be effective. However, Chris Finch told the media post-game that getting Conely involved early against his former team was “a point of emphasis.”
“The last few games, [Mike] has only taken a handful of shots,” said Finch. “That’s not good enough. I wanted to get him going and feature him right away. [His teammates] did a really good job finding him throughout the course of the night in different situations. I thought our passing was really good. We made the extra pass, and we made the obvious pass. We didn’t fight the game, and Mike was the beneficiary of that.”
Mike Conley is checking out with 2:30 left in this one. His night is over.— Charlie Walton (@CharlieWaltonMN) November 27, 2023
• 18 points
• 10 assists
• 6/11 FGM
• 6/9 3PM
What a showing against the team that drafted him and where he spent 12 seasons.
Tonight’s game was never necessarily to the point where our palms should have started to sweat, but Conley was able to put the bucket in the hoop at some key parts of the game and was the largest factor in the team coming out on top.
After one quick game in the Grit & Grind, the Timberwolves will hop on a plane and head right back to the Twin Cities to open up a two-game homestand where they will host the rising Oklahoma City Thunder, who currently sit at 2nd in the Western Conference — right behind Minnesota — and own an 11-and-5 record, Tuesday night.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7:10 PM CT, with streaming available on Bally Sports North and the Wolves App Radio.