Eric Bledsoe shoots a layup at Minnesota

Panzura postgame wrap: Timberwolves 120, Pelicans 110

Timberwolves (4-11), Pelicans (5-10)
by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

New Orleans entered Saturday’s game focused on improving in several areas defensively, but an extended second-half dry spell on offense proved to be costly, while facing an opponent desperate for a victory. After holding a one-point halftime lead, the Pelicans scored just 14 points in the next 14 minutes, which helped stake Minnesota to a 15-point edge. The Timberwolves – who were playing without their top two scorers in 2020-21 – went on to earn just their second win over the last four weeks, after starting the regular season 2-0.

The Pelicans couldn’t take advantage of Minnesota DNPs by Karl-Anthony Towns (health and safety protocols) and D’Angelo Russell (rest in second game of back-to-back), finishing a lengthy road trip at 1-5. They’ll return to the Crescent City for a six-game homestand that begins Monday vs. San Antonio.

IT WAS OVER WHEN…

Anthony Edwards drained two free throws after getting fouled on a fast break, giving the Timberwolves a 99-81 lead with 7:29 remaining. The No. 1 overall draft pick capped a stretch in which the hosts repeatedly got into the paint to score or set up a teammate for an open shot. New Orleans later cut the deficit to 10, but Malik Beasley canned a three-pointer from the left side with two-plus minutes left for additional breathing room.

PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME

“Eric Bledsoe has been fantastic tonight,” said Pelicans TV analyst Antonio Daniels in the fourth quarter of one of the game’s bright spots for the visitors. The New Orleans trade pickup played perhaps his top game with his new team, aggressively driving into the paint and producing a first-half barrage of swished jumpers. The result was a season-high 28 points on 11/23 shooting.

BY THE NUMBERS

21: New Orleans turnovers. The tone was set early when the Pelicans had a few sloppy mistakes and mishandled the ball. They gave up double-digit turnovers in both halves.

24-14: Minnesota edge in the third quarter. Pelicans TV analyst David Wesley noted on the postgame show that New Orleans has been outscored by a combined 66 points in the third quarter of the last eight games.

Revisiting three keys to victory

DEFENSE-FIRST MENTALITY

Despite not having both of its players who average 20-plus points this season, Minnesota still piled up 63 first-half points. The Timberwolves also only committed three turnovers prior to intermission, showing that the Pelicans needed to be peskier on defense.

MORE E-Z BASKETS

It was a very rare inefficient night for Zion Williamson (6 of 16 shooting), who got some hoops at the rim in the first two-plus quarters, but fewer touches in the second half.

BUILD ON BENCH MOMENTUM

It was a drop-off for the reserves after shooting 11/21 at Utah two days earlier, this time going just 6/15 from the field and totaling 17 points. Three Minnesota subs reached double digits in scoring.

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