Thursday, November 30 — The Minnesota Timberwolves welcomed the Utah Jazz to the Target Center, and the Wolves took down the Jazz, 101-90, coasting to their eighth home win in just nine games. Minnesota was fueled by All-NBA big man Karl-Anthony Towns and a second-half showtime performance from guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Let’s look into the reactions from the game’s stars and their performances in a solid win over a short-handed Utah team.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker steps up for the Timberwolves
In a game without both Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels, Nickeil Alexander-Walker became a bountiful source of production for the Timberwolves on both ends of the court. NAW posted a season-high 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting, including 4-of-8 from downtown against his former team. After the game, the Wolves’ guard highlighted how the belief from the organization and coaching staff allows him to play freely.
“You don’t feel like you got to make the perfect play, to be perfect. I want to thank the organization and [head coach Chris] Finch for allowing me to play through mistakes. That confidence has really resonated [with me].”
Nickeil’s newfound confidence is clear as day watching him on the court. He’s comfortable and making big-time plays because of it. Alexander-Walker finished the game with a team-high seven assists, including a beautiful behind-the-back pass in transition to a diving teammate. I asked NAW postgame about how the Wolves’ trust in him allows him to play his game and what that means to him.
“Now that I don’t have to feel that added pressure. Just playing the game that I love and feeling like a kid again.”
In addition to the highlight plays, NAW was massive on the defensive end for the Timberwolves. He drew four offensive fouls on illegal screens, finished the game with five steals, and even added two blocks. His point-of-attack defense was essential in slowing down Jazz rookie Keyonte George.
It was a complete, all-around game as the Wolves’ guard stepped up big time in the absence of two starters.
Karl-Anthony Towns sends a reminder
With all of the attention Anthony Edwards receives, it might be easy to overlook just how good Karl-Anthony Towns is at basketball. Thursday night’s game served as a great reminder to how talented KAT is as a seven-footer.
Towns ended the night with a game-high 32 points. His efficiency was massive for Minnesota as he shot 12-of-22 from the field and a lights-out 4-of-7 from three-point land. The Wolves’ talented big contributed to the Wolves’ success in more ways than just scoring the basketball. Towns finished the game with four assists.
Postgame, Towns praised his team’s collection of offensive weapons, “We have a lot of offensive talent. When everyone’s touching the ball, it leads to points.”
Towns’ selflessness was on display on a night he had it going offensively. His maturity on the offensive end has helped elevate Minnesota’s collective unit this season. Finch's postgame highlighted Towns’ decision-making on the offensive end. “KAT’s done a much better job of making smarter plays,” Finch said when discussing his offensive chemistry with Rudy Gobert as the two seven-footers have formed an elite duo this season.
Getting it done on both ends of the court
KAT was quick to praise the Wolves’ effort on both ends of the floor. “We know if things get tough, we can fall back on our defense,” Towns emphasized the collective approach to battling through adversity, “We’re doing a great job of just finding ways to win.”
The three-time All-Star is 100% right. On a night-to-night basis, Minnesota continues to find ways to win. The Timberwolves moved to 14-4 after Thursday’s win over the Jazz.
On nights when shots aren’t falling, they keep themselves in games by slowing down the other team on the defensive end of the floor. With the talented shot makers Minnesota possesses when fully healthy, they are a real threat to make some serious noise this season as long as they continue to work together on both ends of the floor.