HomeBasketball TodayDespite Loss, Timberwolves' Alexander-Walker and Reid Shine Brightly

Despite Loss, Timberwolves’ Alexander-Walker and Reid Shine Brightly

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The shorthanded Timberwolves gave a fantastic effort against the Lakers.

March has been a bit of a rough month for the Minnesota Timberwolves from a health standpoint. After All-Star big man Karl-Anthony Towns suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee, the Wolves depth became even more important. Versatile forward Kyle Anderson has stepped up in Towns’ absence since the injury. Recently acquired guard Monte Morris has also been missing time due to left hamstring soreness. In addition to these injuries, Minnesota was without Slowmo (right shoulder pain) and Rudy Gobert (right hamstring tightness) on Sunday night.

With the Wolves’ backs against the wall, Minnesota got big-time contributions from two usual bench pieces. Despite the 109-120 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, the performances by Naz Reid and Nickeil Alexander-Walker are good signs leading up to the postseason.

Naz Reid’s first start

Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) and Minnesota Timberwolves center Naz Reid (11) tip off during the first quarter at Crypto.com Arena.
Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves’ sixth man made his first start of the season on Sunday night. With two future Hall of Fame big men out, Naz Reid had big shoes to fill against the Lakers. Reid didn’t hesitate to leave an impact on the game. Scoring eight quick points in the first quarter, Reid showcased his outside scoring with two triples out of the gate.

The former undrafted product out of LSU continued to make it rain against the purple and gold. His 21 first-half points led the way for the short-handed Timberwolves, following up his career-high 34 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday. Reid stuffed the stat sheet as he poured in 25 points on the game Sunday night to go along with four blocks and three assists.

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Despite Reid’s strong play, it was still clear that the Wolves missed Gobert and Towns badly. Lakers big man Anthony Davis completely dominated the glass and the game as a whole. Tallying a ridiculous 27-point, 25-rebound, seven-steal, and three-block stat line, it was AD all day long for the Lakers. Naz’s contribution, however, is a positive sign leading up to the postseason.

When the Wolves are fully healthy, his scoring touch provides Minnesota a meaningful spark plug off the bench. His outside-in offensive game coupled with higher-activity levels defensively this season gives the Wolves 48 minutes of dominant big-man play on a night-to-night basis.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker makes a statement

With multiple contributors out, Nickiel Alexander-Walker logged a season-high in minutes. Playing over 40 minutes on Sunday night, NAW left his impact on the game on both ends of the floor. The Wolves’ hybrid wing scored 15 points in the loss in addition to snagging seven rebounds. Nickeil Alexander-Walker has also been a vital playmaker for Minnesota this season as he dished out five assists as well.

NAW made a couple of defensive plays on Sunday night as well as his ball pressure and quickness led him to securing two steals on the night. At times, NAW’s slight frame was punished by LeBron James. While the Timberwolves’ depth may have been outmatched by the Lakers’ star talent, Sunday night was a phenomenal display of why the Timberwolves have been around the top of the West all season long.

Even with half of their usual rotation out, the Wolves still challenged a healthy Lakers team throughout the night. Minnesota poured in 40 points in the second quarter and were within one at halftime. Even after a slow start to the third quarter, the Wolves ended the period on a 22-8 run to take a one-point lead into the final frame. Not many NBA teams could hang without two All-NBA caliber bigs out of the lineup, but Minnesota showed its depth even in the loss.

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About the Author

Sheldon Wohlman is in his first season as a reporter covering the Minnesota Timberwolves for ClutchPoints. Sheldon eats, sleeps and breathes basketball as he coaches, enjoys playing basketball and covers the NBA on YouTube and Twitter.

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