LAS VEGAS – An impressive second half wasn’t quite enough for the Timberwolves in their bid to win the Vegas NBA Summer League championship.
Summer League MVP Brandon Clarke had 15 points and 16 rebounds, and the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Wolves 95-92 to win the title on Monday night at Thomas & Mack Center.
Bruno Caboclo and Dusty Hannahs also each had 15 points for the Grizzlies (6-1), who were guided by their new coach, Taylor Jenkins. New Wolves assistant Pablo Prigioni served as their summer coach, with head coach Ryan Saunders watching from the stands.
“I’m really proud of this group from players to coaches to staff, with everybody continuing to advance our identity in a short period of time,” said Saunders, who was in Las Vegas for the entirety of Summer League play. “Tonight was a tough one, and that was a tough team. We feel good about how we competed.”
Kelan Martin led the Wolves with 19 points, while former Gophers forward Jordan Murphy had 14 points and eight rebounds in less than 15 minutes of action. Mitchell Creek scored 13 points, Barry Brown Jr. had 12 and Keita Bates Diop 10.
The Wolves (6-1) — again playing without 2018 first-round pick Josh Okogie, who injured his left ankle and shin Saturday, and 2019 first-round pick Jarrett Culver, who didn’t play at all in Las Vegas — fell behind 29-13 early but pulled within 72-70 after three quarters.
Murphy had seven points and four rebounds in the fourth quarter, matching his totals through three quarters, but the Wolves never could quite pull even or take the lead.
Memphis used a 9-0 run to go ahead 93-83, but the Wolves responded with a 9-0 run of their own, with Bates-Diop hitting a three to get his team within 93-92.
With 10.4 seconds left, Memphis’ Keenan Evans made two free throws. Martin missed a long three, but the ball went out of bounds off Memphis with 0.8 seconds left. The Grizzlies’ Grayson Allen then deflected the final pass to Bates-Diop as time expired.
Clarke was named league MVP before the game; he ended up averaging 14.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game in six games for the Grizzlies. Despite going undefeated before Monday’s final, the Wolves had no players named to the Summer League first or second teams.
The Wolves were playing in the Summer League championship game for the second time; in 2016, they also lost by three to the Chicago Bulls in overtime. That team was coached by Saunders when he was a Wolves assistant under Tom Thibodeau.
Star Tribune staff writer Michael Rand contributed to this report.