The bench unit once again boasted their positive impact, but a starting group that’s working to find a rhythm struggled to get into a groove again on Friday night against the Milwaukee Bucks.
D’Angelo Russell finished the night with nine points, shooting 3/15 from the field and 2/8 from deep. Russell took seven shots in the opening quarter, scoring five points after an early dose of pick-and-roll with Rudy Gobert.
Although making an effort to be more aggressive, Russell’s high-volume shooting night didn’t come with the efficiency that was necessary.
The Wolves were out-rebounded early by a big Bucks squad anchored by Brook Lopez and Giannis Antetokounmpo, falling into a quick 6-1 deficit on the boards. Giannis flashed his usual brute strength all night, finishing with a triple double that included 26 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.
Jrue Holiday poured in 29 points on 12-24 shooting in addition to his eight rebounds and six assists.
The answers defensively were murky for the Wolves, who deployed Kyle Anderson to attempt to bring a sense of stability to the ballgame. He saw an uptick in minutes, ending the contest with 21 to Jaden McDaniels’ 18.
After the game Chris Finch discussed what went into the decision to play Anderson more tonight:
“He just kind of makes simple plays gets off of it. Pretty smart. Obviously very smart. He’s the only guy, well, one of the few guys that was in the positive in the plus/minus category so you know, the good things are happening when he’s out there, both ends of the floor.”
Naz Reid was even given the Giannis assignment on defense temporarily, signaling that what the Wolves had been previously doing wasn’t quite working. Reid was able to make a highlight play out of it, rejecting a dunk attempt and then finishing the next offensive possession with a slam.
The block was awesome and the dunk was spectacular, but the best part about this Naz Reid highlight?— Kyle Theige (@KyleTheige) November 5, 2022
The Timberwolves have a lot of problems right now but the former LSU Tiger is not one of them. pic.twitter.com/iDuUqpVGdl
Reid ended the night with just eight points, but again moved the ball and contributed to a better-flowing offense with him on the court.
This is exactly the type of game that makes sense to leave Naz Reid in with the closing lineup if he can keep this play rolling through the rest of the game.— Jack Borman (@jrborman13) November 5, 2022
Great rhythm to the offense with Naz out there wreaking havoc on the Bucks
Faint MVP chants rained down from the crowd during Reid’s minutes tonight, as well as multiple suggestions to insert him into the game.
Karl-Anthony Towns finished the game with 22 points on 9/19 shooting, which many of the makes came from punishing a defender not named Giannis Antetokounmpo.
As soon as the Bucks put Brook Lopez on Towns in the first quarter he recorded three buckets, flashing his ability to punish opposing 5s. KAT’s play sparked a mini run near the end of the opening quarter, putting the Wolves within eight at the end of the first.
End of 1:— Jace frederick (@JaceFrederick) November 5, 2022
Holiday with 11 points for Milwaukee
KAT w/ 9 for Minnesota -- 7 came in his time with the bench unit
Wolves getting out-rebounded 13-4
To end the first half, Jaden McDaniels nailed a corner 3-pointer after long inbound pass from Towns eventually found its way to McDaniels.
Jaden McDaniels end-of-quarter 3, created by Karl-Anthony Towns + Anthony Edwards pic.twitter.com/uOV5Ee6cCk— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) November 5, 2022
Anthony Edwards capped off his evening with 24 points on 10/19 shooting, including two buckets that were freed up by Gobert screens in the third quarter. Edwards was able to snake his way around the screen and find his way to two 3-pointers, punishing the drop coverage.
That coverage came from a Milwaukee team that was one of the bigger teams Minnesota has faced this season, giving the Gobert-Towns front-court an idea of what they’ll face against teams with big lineups.
Matchups— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) November 5, 2022
Gobert on Giannis
KAT on Lopez
McDaniels on Allen
Ant on Jrue
DLo on Carter
Lopez on Gobert
Giannis on KAT
Allen on McDaniels
Holiday on Ant
Carter on DLo
11 of Holiday’s 29 points came in the first quarter, a quarter in which he set and then controlled the pace of on both ends of the floor. He was able to disrupt a play and get a quick bucket in the first quarter after securing an offensive rebound and putting it up and in for a layup.
The dreaded third quarter reared its head once again, with turnovers and inefficient shooting riddling the Wolves’ play early in the quarter.
MIN— Alan Horton (@WolvesRadio) November 5, 2022
3TO for 5 MIL points
Bucks 17-6 in the quarter & up 18 w/ 5:55 left... https://t.co/9ry9jbbJAH
However, Jaylen Nowell did he best to pull Minnesota from letting the game get out of reach, as he poured in 10 points in the quarter.
The Reid block and ensuing dunk in the third quarter turned out to be fuel for Giannis, who simply took over the game and put this one to bed in fourth quarter.
“We were everything with Giannis, we switched, we were down the floor, we were up the floor, we did everything with it tonight. You know, we just kept trying to change it up and see if we could find something. We had Rudy on him, KAT on him, Naz on him and we had Kyle on him,” Chris Finch said after the game.
Although the ball didn’t stick as much as it did in previous games, the Wolves couldn’t quite get a grip on the Bucks on Friday night. It’s been evident this new group is still learning to play together, which makes for (expected) bumps in the road. However, this caliber of opponent was a taste of what Minnesota can expect in the future if they reach their high expectations this season.