New Orleans Pelicans: Grades for overtime win vs. Timberwolves

Zion Williamson and Lonzo Ball of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Harrison Barden/Getty Images)
Zion Williamson and Lonzo Ball of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Harrison Barden/Getty Images) /
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Zion Williamson, Lonzo Ball, New Orleans Pelicans
(Photo by Harrison Barden/Getty Images) /

Only the New Orleans Pelicans can blow out the Los Angeles Clippers and, a few games later, go to overtime against one of the worst teams in the NBA.

Ultimately, the Pelicans beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 140-136 in overtime in what was actually a hard-fought game. Maybe some of you will argue with my denomination of where the Timberwolves are as a team and that’s fair enough.

You can say that they have struggled with injuries and Covid-19 all season long, that they changed their head coach, and that they have barely had their two main stars available. All of those things are true and, when the Timberwolves have D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns on the court at the same time, their record is actually favorable.

At the same time, though, it feels like the same old story in Minnesota. To some extent, the Timberwolves usually tend to disappoint during the regular season, get eliminated from playoff contention, and then look better to end the year. This is a vicious cycle of hope and disappointment, often accelerated by the thrill of getting a top pick in the NBA Draft.

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This could happen again this year. The Timberwolves have undisputedly improved under new coach Chris Finch, who has modernized their offense and really started playing through Towns at all times. If they get a top three pick this year and pair them with Towns, Russell, and last year’s number one pick Anthony Edwards, then the future looks a lot better.
But at the end of the day, we have to wait for the results. The same thoughts went through many’s minds when the T’Wolves got Andrew Wiggins or Towns. Nothing changed. It’s too early to tell with Anthony Edwards, but their first season with him is going to end with draft hopes rather than playoff aspirations.

On the New Orleans side of things, the Pelicans were once again without Steven Adams, meaning that Willy Hernangómez got his fifth start of the season. The Pels also couldn’t count on Nickel Alexander-Walker and Josh Hart due to injury, as well as Didi Louzada who is apparently still waiting for his work visa to come through.

Here are the player grades for the Pels’ overtime win against the Timberwolves, starting with my personal MVP:

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Minnesota Timberwolves: Grading the best player

. Big. New Orleans Pelicans. ZION WILLIAMSON. A

This was one of the tougher decisions I’ve had to make in these columns, but ultimately, I have to give it to Zion Williamson.

It was another incredible outing by the Pels’ all-star. Williamson completely dominated the Timberwolves in every facet of the game and this was especially apparent in overtime. But before we get there, I have to praise Williamson’s willingness to pass against Minnesota.

This was as pass-happy as I have seen him play. That’s not to say that Williamson is not a facilitar. We already know that he can make and execute the right reads after dealing with all the attention he attracts. Against the Timberwolves, though, he tied his career-high eight assists and really should have had more.

Williamson was making great decisions with the ball in his hands all night long. He was especially effective driving, scanning the floor, and then finding the correct teammate to pass to. It’s too bad that some of his great dishes did not get scored on.

Then, from a scoring standpoint, Williamson was typically scary. He scored on 14-of-17 field goals and went to the free throw line fifteen times. That is surely one way to make dropping 37 points look easy.

In overtime, Williamson was genuinely unstoppable. He fouled out Karl Anthony-Towns, Naz Reid, and Jaden McDaniels in consecutive fashion. It was just funny at that point to watch him toy with the Timberwolves’ frontcourt.