The Minnesota Timberwolves returned to game action for the first time in 277 days as they took on the Memphis Grizzlies in their 2020 preseason opener on Saturday night. Though it was a welcome return to the hardwood, with nine months since Minnesota’s last game, the on-court absence combined with several new roster additions brought an expected amount of rust. Memphis held off a Timberwolves comeback effort 107-105, with Minnesota totaling 22 turnovers for 24 Grizzlies points.
“It went kind of as expected…I wish we did some things better, but I bet Memphis feels the same way,” said Head Coach Ryan Saunders. “I’m sure every other team that’s played a preseason game so far feels the same way.”
Second-year guard Jaylen Nowell staved off any early rust, amassing a game-high 22 points in just 13 minutes. Nowell showcased his perimeter shooting abilities by connecting on four three-point attempts and 7-of-11 field goals overall.
“For me to catch a rhythm like that, I’m very thankful for that,” said No. 4. “Got to credit it to KB [Kevin Burleson] who’s my players coach – we’ve just been, after every single day of practice shooting an extra hour and a half, being the last ones out the gym.”
The University of Washington product spent the majority of his rookie season with the team’s G-League affiliate, the Iowa Wolves, where he averaged 21 points, five rebounds, and three-plus assists per contest.
“It felt amazing to be back out there,” Nowell shared.
No. 4 and the rest of the Timberwolves will play their final home preseason matchup in a rematch versus Memphis on Monday. The game will be televised via Fox Sports North and available via WCCO Radio, with tip off slated for 7 p.m.