ESPN Sources: The Lakers are finalizing deal to land Minnesota’s D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt in trade including Mike Conley and picks to Timberwolves and Russell Westbrook and a lightly protected 2027 LA first-round pick to Jazz.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 9, 2023
D’Angelo Russell was listed as inactive before the matchup due to personal reasons. On the Jazz side, new Timberwolf Mike Conley Jr., and former Timberwolves Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt also sat out with the trade pending.
Despite the extenuating circumstances, the Timberwolves and Jazz came out firing. Minnesota led 33 to 31 after the first quarter. Anthony Edwards attacked early scoring the ball (14 points) and setting up teammates (four assists) all in the first period.
The offensive onslaught from the Timberwolves continued as the team poured in 44 points in the second quarter. At the six-and-a-half minute mark in the period the Timberwolves were 11/12 from the field compared to the Jazz’s five-of-nine shooting.
Jaylen Nowell catalyzed the offense. The University of Washington product shot an efficient seven of nine from the field and four of six from three for 20 first-half points to catalyze the offense.
After the Denver Nuggets put up 146 points against them the night before, the Wolves paid it forward to the Jazz.
Help From Multiple Places
It wasn’t just the starting backcourt for the Timberwolves that made their imprint on the game.
Six Timberwolves finished with 12 or more points in the contest. Edwards and Nowell scored 31 and 30 points respectively. The third-leading scorer was two-way center Luka Garza who poured in 25 points on nine of 13 shooting from the field and four of five from three-point range.
The team got contributions from Taurean Prince (12 points) and Jaden McDaniels (14 points). Sparingly used rookie Josh Minott got early minutes and made the most of his chance. He finished with a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double in 29 minutes of action. He ran the floor and made opportunistic dashes to the rim in transition.
Josh Minott explosive transition dunk, assisted by Jordan McLaughlin pic.twitter.com/mSL2wzsQIk— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) February 9, 2023
Not only did the team spread the wealth in the scoring department, but they also did so in assists. The Timberwolves had 35 assists while keeping turnovers at a minimum with just 10. The entire starting lineup had three or more assists.
In Head Coach Chris Finch’s open, free-flowing offense, a high assist count dispersed amongst multiple players is the sign of a healthy game on that end.
A D’Angelo Russell-less Timberwolves
With Russell out of the picture, Edwards has full reign of the offense. He asserted himself early, but also didn’t stop ball movement to look for his own shot.
The Wolves set up an empty corner pick and roll with Naz Reid. Edwards dimes up Reid with a pocket pass and lets him do the rest.
Anthony Edwards lefty PnR pocket pass to Naz Reid for the layup pic.twitter.com/Ur6v7oKZPW— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) February 9, 2023
Edwards passing and scoring blend will be something to watch out for moving forward. Newly acquired Conley will likely defer to the Timberwolves’ budding star, and Edwards’ decision-making will be tested.
Conley can help with setting up and organizing the offense along with the occasion knife into the paint for a floater or lob to his former pick-and-roll partner in Rudy Gobert, but Edwards is now the primary engine to the offense.
With trade deadline talk dangling over the entire game, the Timberwolves managed to pull out a crucial win before the trade deadline.
Minnesota will travel to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies. Memphis is 2-8 in their last ten but have a tendency to play the Timberwolves tight. Conley is expected to make his debut on Friday against the organization he is most associated with.