Malik Beasley admitted the film session of the Timberwolves’ loss to Orlando on Friday night “wasn’t pretty.”
And through the first half on Saturday against the Miami Heat, it appeared Minnesota was primed for another unpleasant rewatch the following morning. It even had many of the same mistakes.
Like Friday, the Timberwolves jumped out to an early lead with the offense grooving, only for Karl-Anthony Towns to rack up three first-quarter fouls to throw off the rhythm. Miami and Orlando alike used that to catch their breath, gain ground and eventually speed past the Timberwolves.
But unlike Friday, Minnesota managed to reverse course. And they did it through defense. The Timberwolves fought back from a 12-point halftime deficit and cooled a red-hot Heat team in the second half to win 113-104 in Miami.
“The intensity, the effort was there everywhere from the beginning,” coach Chris Finch said of his defense, which was missing both Jarred Vanderbilt and Patrick Beverley due to injury. Finch added later, “We’ve been resilient when we’ve had off performances. They owned last
night. They wanted to be better today. They knew they had to be better today.”
After allowing 42 points in the second quarter alone, Minnesota held the Jimmy Butler-less Heat to just 37 points in the entire second half. The Heat came up empty on seven of their final nine possessions as Minnesota outscored them 16-4 over that stretch as the Timberwolves’ offense clicked too.
After Tyler Herro hit a 3-pointer to reach 30 points for the game and to go up 100-97, Anthony Edwards immediately answered with a three of his own. Edwards answered the call again up 104-103, forcing a foul on a drive and nailing both free throws.
Beasley then hit a 3-pointer two possessions later to extend the lead to five. A couple of defensive stops and subsequent free throw trips led to the eventual winning margin of nine.
“I just think this win was super huge. For us to come off a terrible loss last night, be down 12 going into halftime, come out and just eat at the lead and then take the lead going into the fourth. It was just like perfect … it shows who we are,” Edwards said postgame.
The comeback came as the Timberwolves maneuvered around foul trouble again. Towns played only 25 minutes, and 11 of his 15 points came in the game’s first six minutes as he quickly racked up three first-quarter fouls.
Jaden McDaniels also played just 24 minutes, fouling out late in the fourth quarter.
As a result, Jordan McLaughlin, Jaylen Nowell, Naz Reid and Taurean Prince all played more than 20 minutes. Nowell led the team in scoring with 16 points. Reid and Price each had 11. All in all, eight Timberwolves scored in double digits, as every starter eclipsed the mark.
“When we’re not selfish, we’re a hard team to beat,” Edwards said.