It feels good. It feels good to watch the Minnesota Timberwolves win games. It feels good to see Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell bust out of their chrysalis and return to regular programming. It feels good to watch a successful evening in which Anthony Edwards has an off night. Even without LeBron James, it feels good to beat the Los Angeles Lakers. It feels good to feel good.
This win didn’t feel so good in the first half. It almost seemed like the Lakers were barely breaking a sweat and were still keeping the Wolves at arm’s length for the first 24 minutes. Then, where the Lakers sleepwalked out of the locker room at halftime, the Timberwolves kicked open the door and sprinted out. They reeled off 40 points in the third term and held their hapless opponents to just 12, sucking the life out of the Staples Center with a barrage of 3-pointers and stifling defensive plays.
The points and the stops kept coming and coming and coming. It felt good to watch some shots go in. It felt good to watch the Wolves scramble on defense and scrounge for the rebounds that end the possession. In the end, Minnesota was able to do some sleepwalking of their own for once, running out 107-83 winners and smashing their six-game losing skid into a million forgettable pieces.
Patrick Beverley: 8/10
Deserves so much credit for the way Minnesota responded to a flat first half. Before the fireworks and the star players doing their star player things, he was the one who got the ball rolling. Pushing and pushing that ball until it started barreling into an unstoppable force.
The defense is standard procedure. He hounds and he makes the right rotations and he jumps in front of rumbling big men with no regard for any bone in his body. The rebounding was swell, pulling down seven of those bad boys and rewarding those working hard boxing out. The scoring isn’t as predictable from Beverley, but his run of at-the-rim buckets in that fateful third quarter set a fire under the ass of his teammates and propelled them to the heights they reached.
Just left his fingerprints all over this one. Against Russell Westbrook. On his old foe’s birthday. That must have felt good. Happy birthday, Russ.
Finished with 11 points (79.9% TS), 7 rebounds and 4 assists with a +23.3 net rating.
D’Angelo Russell: 8/10
Every time you would bet your house, car and family members that his lethargic starts to games are going to poison the rest of his night he does some fucking spectacular shit for just long enough to make you realize why he is so important.
When he is rolling, and he absolutely can get rolling, he is a walking heat check and a bender of defenses. A shooter and a passer and even at times in this game an attacker of rims. Started raining triples and drowned his former team in the process. Enjoyable.
Finished with 22 points (55.3% TS), 5 rebounds and 7 assists with a +50.4 net rating.
Anthony Edwards: 3/10
Backed up the best game of his career with one of his poorest. It would have been nice to see him join his teammates in a romping but it wasn’t to be. He never seemed aggressive enough and in the few instances that he tried to kickstart himself he ran into a purple wall and lost the ball. That L.A. nightlife stays undefeated. Gets an extra point for being a constant larrikin on the bench and coming back in when the game was over to try and spoon-feed Naz Reid and failing relentlessly.
Finished with 9 points (40.9% TS) and 3 rebounds with a +9.5 net rating.
Jarred Vanderbilt: 9/10
Vibrant Vando. Cameoing the Lakers to an early grave. Lightning and thunder and sunshine and blue skies all forming together in one beautiful combination. Only played six first-half minutes and it was the only time the Timberwolves looked capable before halftime. Then he came back in the second half and just ran rampant with his Red Bull stylings.
I’m still laughing at that block in the corner. Malik Monk standing there like he’s seen a fucking ghost. Vanderbilt still flying across the California sky. I can’t get enough of it. Just did everything you hope he will do. His berserker skillset doesn’t always work but when it does it’s so unbelievably impactful.
Finished with 4 points (50% TS), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and a block with a +88.6 net rating.
Karl-Anthony Towns: 10/10
I’m not sure he will get the same encomiums that Anthony Edwards got after he dropped 48 points against the Golden State Warriors, but he probably deserves to. He was a life raft in the first quarter while the rest of Minnesota’s offense was sinking — doing so by scrapping the ludicrous post-up mentality and opting for face-up and roll-man buckets — and then he laughed in the face of every bit of criticism he’s received of late in the third quarter. A wildfire.
Just reached out and vice-gripped Anthony Davis’ manhood. Theoretically and physically. Step-back triple. 30-footer. Off-the-dribble lay. Corner triple. Quiet Staples Center. A bounce-back game of the highest quality. Leaving Davis’ pride and nuts the same color as Los Angeles’ ugly ass jerseys. Hilariously good.
Finished with 29 points (44.7% TS), 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals with a +30.6 net rating.
Malik Beasley: 3/10
Man, his first half was bad. Beasley Bricks Incorporated operating at high demand. He never really gets better, does he? He peels the lid off the rim with a corner triple and he makes a play or two for others in the second half but he is still stuck firmly in an enormous slump. It doesn’t feel as bad when the Wolves can overcome it, but it’s still a pretty huge issue.
Finished with 5 points (25% TS) and 3 rebounds with a +25.8 net rating.
Naz Reid: 7/10
He isn’t a backup center. Backup centers don’t do what he does at the rim consistently. The Lakers are stumped on how to deal with him from minute one. Just a big bumbling sack of scoring ability. He is stuck behind Karl-Anthony Towns, which is both good to shield him from overexposure and bad because he deserves more than that. He was excellent again and he is on a streak of excellence. My girlfriend loves him and that probably trumps any praise I can give him.
Finished with 12 points (50% TS) and 5 rebounds with a -15.1 net rating.
Jaden McDaniels: 7/10
Didn’t foul out. That shouldn’t be such a huge achievement but it really is. It’s honestly funny how much he is fouling but it’s really fucking awesome when he isn’t. For the first time this season, he doesn’t start the game, but his shoulders don’t slouch and his chin doesn’t fall. He still plays 21 minutes and he contributes as an off-the-bounce scorer, a rebounder, and string bean that loves fucking shit up defensively. Also, he didn’t foul out.
Finished with 9 points (34.7% TS) and 6 rebounds with a +4.6 net rating.