clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Wolves 118, Lakers 113: Welcome to the Naz Reid Show

Minnesota’s embarrassment of riches was on display in yet another short-handed preseason win.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Naz Reid.

What more can you say?

The Minnesota Timberwolves’ fourth-year big man out of LSU refused to let a major opportunity to prove himself go to waste. Head coach Chris Finch announced Wednesday evening that he would be without his All-Star bigs Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert, so Reid got another start at the 5.

As I wrote in tonight’s preview, the game presented Reid a major test going up against LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the Los Angeles Lakers front-court; I joked that they might not be enough to stop Reid, but...

They weren’t.

Reid exploded for 19 points on 8/13 shooting, 11 rebounds and two assists in the first half alone, outscoring James (16) and Davis (14) and out-rebounding the pair of NBA 75th Anniversary Team players, too.

Finch deployed Reid where the athletic big man is most comfortable, above the break, and Reid feasted on the Lakers’ defense. Whether he was reading the defense in dribble hand-offs (DHOs) or setting screens and rolling hard in pick-and-roll (PnR), he took what the defense gave him and made them pay more often than not.

He got some help from D’Angelo Russell, whose 15 points, six assists, three boards, and three stocks set an excellent tone in the half-court on both ends of the floor. Russell picked his spots masterfully, snaking in DHO actions and making good reads in PnR after receiving screens from Reid.

While Reid and Russell were setting Arena on fire, Jaden McDaniels made sure Russell Westbrook knew he wants all the smoke.

The former Washington star is not new to dominating the game of getting under his opponents’ skin. Wolves fans fondly remember Karl-Anthony Towns absolutely obliterating Jaren Jackson Jr. in Minnesota’ Game 1 win over the Memphis Grizzlies last season. McDaniels surely let Jackson Jr. know about it, drawing a technical foul when Jackson Jr. had heard enough.

The pair made up for a quiet night from Anthony Edwards — who scored only five points on 2/12 shooting, but did make up for it with six boards and five dimes across 26 minutes — and pushed Wolves out to a 62-54 halftime lead.

Reid put together a first half so exquisite that as the ESPN crew came out of the break, Richard Jefferson spoke over Reid’s first half highlights and offered “this is what the Lakers need Anthony Davis to do.” The content was incredible.

The Wolves didn’t exactly play inspired basketball in the third quarter, which is to be expected on Day No. 5 in Los Angeles, but 14 points from Minnesota’s resident Swiss Army Knives, McDaniels and Kyle Anderson, were enough to keep pace with a, to be frank, feeble Lakers team.

Reid, Russell and Edwards played third quarter minutes, but got their teammates going in that span. The back-court tandem each dropped added a pair of dimes, while Reid focused his efforts on the glass and drawing in the defense to open things up for guys like Bryn Forbes, McDaniels and Anderson.

James and Davis certainly made their presence felt out of the locker room. The elite duo combined for 14 points and 10 rebounds, but got just 12 points from a supporting cast comprised of seven other Lakers who saw at least three minutes of action in the frame.

How anyone expects this team to make the playoffs over one of the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Wolves, Grizzlies, Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, New Orleans Pelicans, Dallas Mavericks or Portland Trail Blazers as presently constructed is beyond me. Hell, there is a good argument to be made that the Sacramento Kings have a better roster — and certainly a deeper one — than the Lakers. That lack of depth was evident when the end of the Wolves bench checked into the game.

Where Reid left off Luka Garza picked it up.

The former Naismith Player of the Year at Iowa came out firing from the moment he stepped out on the floor. If you want to talk about confidence, you want to talk about Garza; the former Detroit Piston eyed down Floyd Money Mayweather after scoring his first pair of buckets, much to the delight of both the broadcast and his Wolves teammates over on the bench.

Garza got up nine shots in 12 minutes, scoring 15 points to go with four rebounds and a steal. This performance comes on the heels of a fantastic sequence on Sunday night against the Clippers, in which he made both the most impactful plays of the night on consecutive possessions on either end of the floor to seal a major comeback win.

Reid is walking proof that this coaching staff can develop bigs in this system, so if Finch feels as strongly about Garza, it speaks volumes about the depth of the front-court; that figures to be a crucial driver of the Wolves’ 2022-23 success given their commitment to playing big in an NBA climate undergoing a small-ball revolution.

Whether or not that concept works is to be determined by the regular season and playoffs, but don’t tell that to Naz Reid or Luka Garza. As the opportunity to prove they belong approached, they both seized it, and are in line to form one of the most talented insurance policies in the entire NBA.

Game Highlights

Up Next

The now 4-0 Wolves finally will make their way back to Minneapolis tonight in preparation for hosting Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons and the Brooklyn Nets at Target Center.

Gobert and Towns are expected to debut alongside one another in the team’s lone preseason home game and final exhibition contest. Fans can catch the 7 PM CT tip on Bally Sports North.