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Wolves 102, Pelicans 88: Miller and Minott Marvel in Victory

Kicking off NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, the Timberwolves took down the Pelicans behind a charge from their young, lanky forwards.

2023 NBA Las Vegas Summer League - New Orleans Pelicans v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images

All eyes were on the Minnesota Timberwolves’ prized prospects on Friday afternoon, specifically No. 33 overall pick Leonard Miller, 2022 first-round pick Wendell Moore Jr. and 2022 second-round pick Josh Minott.

It’s safe to say they did not disappoint.

The first contest of Las Vegas Summer League was a game of runs all the way through. The New Orleans Pelicans finished with 29 total turnovers — Minnesota with 19 — a subtle reminder that this is Summer League. But when things got close in the final quarter, the Summer Wolves clamped down and were vaulted to victory by Miller, Minott and Brandon Williams.

The Timberwolves got off to a sluggish start in this game, but soon flashed tremendous length and activity from rangy, lengthy forwards in Minott and Miller. As part of a 13-2 bounce-back Minnesota run in the opening quarter, Miller nailed a deep 3-pointer and then took a charge on the other end to start his 16-point, 11-rebound debut.

Still with questionable mechanics on his jumper, the former G League Ignite star confidently knocked down two of his four 3-point attempts on the day.

The 6-foot-10 Miller also flashed his defensive chops, using his 7-foot-2 wingspan to wall up on driving defenders and contest shots at and away from the rim.

Another Timberwolves wing with arms that seemingly stretch a mile had a terrific game to kick of Summer League, as Minott complied a 20-point, 4-rebound, 2-block statline while shooting 7-for-13 from the field.

Two of the Wolves’ biggest standouts each had sequences that surely had fans grinning from ear to ear, including their connection on a Minott slam off a feed from Miller and also block-to-bucket plays like this one:

The Memphis product led all scorers with 16 points at halftime, impressing with his activity and ability to score around the rim. Minott’s movement around the cup created countless opportunities for his teammates to find him lurking around the rim, including multiple dump offs and lobs to the second-year forward.

Moore Jr. wasn’t able to get his shot rolling early as he finished the first quarter making just one of his six shot attempts. Despite the inefficiency on Friday, Moore Jr. again showed his capable defense and good floor vision. Wolves Head Coach Chris Finch described Moore Jr. as “connective tissue” and compared him to a utility infielder in baseball during an in-game interview with NBA TV, which is a good description of the versatility the former Duke Blue Devil brings to the table.

He shook off a rocky scoring start and was able to hit clutch shots for Minnesota down the stretch, knocking in back-to-back buckets to increase the Wolves’ lead to four with just over five minutes remaining in the contest.

Moore Jr. and Williams split early playmaking duties, and in doing so Williams — who played 24 games for the Portland Trail Blazers last season — was able to get downhill and generate looks in the paint.

Williams finished the contest with 24 points, which included plenty of eye-opening drives and acrobatic finishes at the rim. He averaged 19.4 points per game on 46.2/35.2/75.2 shooting splits in the G League last season.

The former Arizona Wildcat thoroughly impressed in his Minnesota debut as a microwave-scoring option with a knack for finishing around the rim.

Up next, the Timberwolves will take on the Utah Jazz in their second Summer League game on Monday, July 10 at 9 p.m. CT on ESPNU.