Timberwolves

KAT Was Minnesota's Game 5 Hero (and Nearly the Goat)

Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Following the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 105-100 series-extending Game 4 win, a reporter asked Anthony Edwards about his interaction with Dallas Cowboys Star Micah Parsons post-game.

“Micah Parsons, you know, he was rocking the AE1s,” said Edwards, “and I told him, he wear a size 14, I’ll bring him back some nice shoes for Game 6. That’s what I told him.”

Edwards has good reason to be confident. He had his best game of the series with 29 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists. However, it may have been the man sitting to his right, Karl-Anthony Towns, who meant the most in extending the season despite fouling out.

With 5:57 remaining in the game, Kyrie Irving hits a mid-range jumper to give the Dallas Mavericks a 90-89 lead. The flashbacks from the past three games immediately manifested; the Wolves had led in all three losses during the fourth quarter. With five fouls, Towns came off Kyle Anderson‘s off-ball screen and laced a deep three, giving the Wolves a two-point lead, 92-90.

Irving missed a layup on the next possession, and Edwards rebounded it. He drove the ball on the other side of the court and drew a double team before kicking it to Towns in the corner. Towns rose up and made the three to give the Wolves a five-point lead, 95-90, with 5:05 to play, forcing the Mavericks to call timeout.

Over a minute passed before Daniel Gafford dunked Irving’s alley-oop. Edwards and Doncic traded misses before Edwards pulled down a rebound and dribbled the ball upcourt. With 3:00 remaining in the game, Edwards hesi-dribbled and drove before jumping and whirling a pass to Towns, who rose up and drained a highly contested three, extending the lead to 98-92.

Edwards later would hit a turnaround jumper to extend the lead to 100-92. Then Towns fouled. It wasn’t a hard foul to make a player earn points at the line. Not a foul to give. But his sixth foul that would end his night, on Luka Doncic‘s three-point shot, with the Wolves leading by eight. Foul trouble has plagued Towns throughout his career, and he should never pick up a foul like that. Doncic pumped and got Towns to jump, then Donic jumped into him to draw the foul.

However, the Wolves used Towns’ nine points in the final five minutes to eke out a 105-100 win. Still, this game was the full Towns experience. Excellence on offense, going 9 of 13 for 25 points, including 4 of 5 from three, resulting in a game-best +15 net rating. But Towns’ six fouls came on egregious plays where he didn’t need to foul and may have lost his composure.

Towns committed his first foul at 1:38 in the first quarter. It was a foul that Wolves fans have become accustomed to by now. Towns pressured Doncic and reached in to try to steal the ball near mid-court. The Timberwolves weren’t in the bonus at the time, and it was only Towns’ first foul, so it seemed relatively innocuous. Eleven seconds later, though, Towns picked up his second foul, committing an offensive foul while barrelling into a set and waiting for Maxi Kleber in the paint. Both fouls were rather harmless. However, because Towns committed them in short succession, it put him in foul trouble and forced him to sit for an extended time.

Chris Finch subbed Towns out of the game after his second foul, and he didn’t pick up his third foul until there was 4:24 left in the half. Towns made contact with Derrick Jones Jr. on another play where he could have avoided fouling. With the Wolves up three, Towns could have just accepted that Jones would get the loose ball or that the Mavericks would maintain possession. Instead, he decided to go for the ball and picked up the foul. That forced Finch to pull Towns for the remainder of the half.

The third quarter started well for Towns. He scored four points on two layups in the first four minutes of the second half. Then Towns picked up another unnecessary foul. In almost identical fashion, Towns drove into Kleber and initiated contact in the paint, bowling him over. That resulted in an offensive foul, Towns’ fourth foul of the game, with 7:35 to go in the third quarter.

Minnesota’s coaching staff took a risk and decided to let Towns continue playing with four fouls. The Wolves immediately benefitted from that decision; Towns hit a layup and got an and-one on the next possession. A minute later, Towns knocked down a three to give him ten points in the quarter. But Towns restored the balance of good and bad, picking up his fifth foul by attempting to bait P.J. Washington into a foul, similar to how Doncic baited Towns into his sixth foul.

Towns came around a screen and pump-faked a three-point attempt. Washington raises an arm to contest but doesn’t bite fully on the pump. Towns then leans into Washington, forces a shot, and elbows Washington in the chin. It was an easy call for the referees because Washington was planted when Towns hit him in the face. That was another unexpected foul from Towns; he could have driven to the basket on that play.

After the game, Edwards looked toward Towns in their post-game podium media availability.

“What did I tell you about fouling, bro?” he asks Towns.

“What you mean, you had five?” Towns rebuts.

Edwards interjects, “But I didn’t foul out.”

Towns provided 20 second-half points for the Wolves despite being in foul trouble for the entire second half and fouling out in the fourth quarter.

The Wolves wouldn’t have had the chance to win the game without Towns’ scoring. However, they also almost lost the game due to Towns’ foul trouble. If Edwards is going to bring Parsons a pair of size 14 AE1s in Game 6, they will need all of Towns’s offensive firepower and none of the fouling.

Perhaps Edwards said it best after the Phoenix Suns series, “Just stop f——- fouling.”

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