The Timberwolves had an answer every time the Spurs made a push in their 115-90 victory on Thursday night.
Part of the reason for that was the play of the Wolves' bench, which had one of its best games at the right time. The bench came in short-staffed because of injuries to Naz Reid (right foot soreness) and Josh Okogie (back spasms). But Jaden McDaniels, Malik Beasley and Taurean Prince each had a solid night. Here's a look at each of their performances and how it mattered in the context of their season.
Beasley finds his shooting touch
The early season hasn't been kind to Beasley, who was at times the Wolves' best player on the floor last season. After serving time in a workhouse over the summer for a threat of violence charge stemming from last fall, Beasley showed up needing to play himself back into shape.
Beasley entered the night shooting just 30% from three-point range on the season. He was at 40% last season. He was averaging 8.7 points after averaging 19.6 a season ago.
He had a little bit of last season's form on Thursday as he shot 5 of 11 from three-point range.
"Always good to see shots go in," Beasley said. "It's always going to even out. I haven't been shooting the ball well but at the end of the day it's going to even out because I put in a lot of work. My teammates been getting me the ball in the flow so it's easier to not worry about missing or anything."
Beasley's better night shooting might have benefited from the Wolves' overall strong night offensively, with coach Chris Finch saying the team had one of its best nights of the season on that end of the floor.
"When you play with the purpose that we had and the quick decision-making and the flow, guys can feel where their shots are going to come from," Finch said. "It makes it easier to shoot."
Prince turns in a strong night
Beasley wasn't the only one who couldn't find his shooting touch entering Thursday. Prince was shooting just 19% from three-point range and he is a career 37% shooter from beyond the arc. Prince had his best night in a Wolves uniform with 13 points, which included 3 of 5 from the outside. This was before he was ejected for a Flagrant-2 foul on the Spurs' Lonnie Walker IV.
"I'm really happy for him because he's been doing a lot of the right things and he's taken some DNPs [did not plays], just because we were trying to find something and he stayed ready," Finch said. "We came back to him and that's what being a pro is and that's valuable to our team, our young team."
Prince felt like the Wolves' system would benefit him when he came here from Cleveland. Perhaps Thursday was a thawing out of his shot.
McDaniels improving off the bench
McDaniels has had trouble staying on the floor because of foul trouble. To help counteract that Finch moved him to the bench over the last five games. As a result, McDaniels has mostly stayed out of foul trouble because he's not guarding the other team's top player for too long, and has logged over 20 minutes each night since. He scored 13 on Thursday on 6 of 8 shooting and did it in ways that was more than just spotting up to shoot. McDaniels drove to the basket and cut off Karl-Anthony Towns and was able to get to the rim for some easy looks.
It was a step in the right direction for McDaniels, who is a cornerstone of the Wolves' future. The early-season foul trouble has been a learning experience, but the move to the bench seems to have helped for now.
"He's been in a lot of foul trouble, so he's never been able to get into a rhythm," Finch said. "He's way more sure of the things he's been doing."