Anthony Edwards played like a man possessed on Tuesday night as the Minnesota Timberwolves rallied to knock off the Portland Trail Blazers by a final score of 109-107. Ant will get the headlines for pouring in 40 points, but his co-stars in Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell chipped in through different methods to keep the ball rolling along.
This season, KAT attempted seven field goals against the Blazers, his fewest in a game. Towns was able to push through 17 points, but he made his most significant impact on the other end of the court. He finished the night with 17 rebounds. When the final play was supposed to go to him, but Robert Covington had him covered, KAT had no problem deferring to and trusting DLo. It showed his maturity and growth.
Many star players will still force things on the last possession just to get the ball in their hands and a shot launched. That wasn’t the case with Towns on Monday night. He and Ant knew that DLo had the most favorable matchup with all the attention Portland paid to the other two. It helped pave the way for Minnesota’s victory. Despite a quiet night offensively for Towns, he got it done in all the other areas.
Russell provided the final dagger on a goaltending call that put the Wolves up in the final seconds. Up until that moment, DLo had an up-and-down evening, shooting just 3-of-9 from downtown and finishing minus-7 — the worst plus-minus out of Minnesota’s starting five. However, he was able to come through in the most significant moment. It’s those sequences that will pay off big time down the road when teams are mapping out how to stop the Timberwolves in close games.
Having Russell part of the mix is huge for the Wolves. On a night where Edwards was the star, Russell orchestrated and delivered the game-sealer. Within all of it, Minnesota finally got over the hump and back over .500.
Edwards mentioned afterward how important it was for the Wolves to get over .500 from a mental standpoint. It was something that Finch pointed out to the group as well.
“I just wanted to win. Coach (Finch) said this morning we had seven chances to go above .500 and we failed…we went 1-6 throughout those seven games. I didn’t want to make that 1-7 tonight so I wanted to come out with a win.”
If not for his 40 points, Minnesota would not have gotten the win. Finch gave plenty of praise to his rising star in the postgame.
“He has that mentality. He believes he can win any battle, any game, any matchup. We’ve seen a few of these type of performances this season. Not only did he have the 40 but, when we needed it most, he was making big shots.
“He’s got such a great spirit about him. He’s pretty much indomitable in that regard. His teammates love him. And they love him for not only how he plays but who he is as a player because he’s genuine.”
It wouldn’t have been abnormal for the trio in Minnesota to have a more balanced attack and come out with the win. What’s more reassuring is that KAT and DLo are not only comfortable letting Ant do his thing when he gets into demon mode, but they are willing to play in more of a secondary slot when Towns is a premier type player. That sort of unselfishness for such a young team with high aspirations can only do wonders as the season carries along.
For Edwards to dominate the way he has makes many fans giddy about the future. Minnesota and this fan base will hope that the future is arriving sooner than expected. Games like the one Ant had against Portland help ignite confidence that it may pan out that way. For now, they’ll gladly sign up for being a game over .500.
As January carries into February and the games start to add up, it’s becoming more evident that the Timberwolves will be part of the playoff picture in the Western Conference. Tuesday night was a gritty road win that made it four victories in the last five for Minnesota as they continued to ride the strong wave.
They’ve done it in an array of ways this season. Against Portland, they showed one of the formulas can be Ant going bananas, KAT doing the dirty work, and DLo putting the final nail in the coffin. It truly was a beautiful recipe for success.