Timberwolves’ Anthony Edwards proves he’ll make the right play in the big spots
After a slow start Monday, the guard scored 25 points in the second half.
ST. PAUL -- Utah guard Mike Conley met up with Anthony Edwards on the floor in the moments after the Jazz topped the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday afternoon at Target Center. That’s not an uncommon occurrence. Conley has a great respect for Minnesota’s young star, and the two always share a word after games.
Conley’s message on Monday was one of admiration after Edwards showed adept decision making in the game’s final moment.
Edwards, 21, dominated the second half of play on the offensive end. After a slow start, the guard scored 25 points in the second half. That included eight points in the game’s final 5 minutes, 31 seconds.
So, it was a surprise to no one that, when trailing by one with 4 seconds to play, Minnesota coach Chris Finch drew something up to get Edwards the ball.
Edwards caught the inbounds pass and drove to his right, directly into the teeth of the defense. That caused Utah shotblocker extraordinaire Walker Kessler to have to step up to contest a potential Edwards’ attempt at the rim. To do so, Kessler had to leave Jaden McDaniels — an excellent corner 3-point shooter — all alone.
Edwards kicked to McDaniels, who got off a clean look at the horn with a chance to win the game. It clanked off the iron, sealing Minnesota’s defeat.
The end result did little to detract from the decision Edwards made.
“Ant’s special,” Conley said. “I just told him (that) on that last play, he made the right read. A lot of guys don’t do that, and they try to make a tough shot over two or three people, which I’m sure he could. But to have trust in his teammate was big.”
Both Finch and Timberwolves big Naz Reid concurred.
“I think Ant made a great decision. I mean, Jaden is a heck of a shooter in the corner. You can’t ask for nothing better than that — wide open,” Reid said. “That’s a great shot from Jaden. Confidence was there, looked good. Nothing I can complain about on that play.”
It was just another example of Edwards’ evolution in his newfound role as Minnesota’s director of offensive traffic. So often, the right play is for Edwards to use his natural abilities to attack and score. But he’s shown a willingness to get off the ball when it’s prudent.
Such was the case at the end of the third quarter on Monday. Edwards had scored nine points in a span of three minutes, so Utah was justified in the amount of attention it showed Edwards on Minnesota’s final offensive possession of the frame. Collin Sexton was so far up in his off-ball defensive gap that he was practically double-teaming Edwards.
Edwards realized as much as he was sizing up the defense and kicked over to Jaylen Nowell — Sexton’s defensive responsibility — for an easy layup.
Sometimes, the right play leads to a score, but Edwards doesn’t seem deterred by the ones that don’t. He had no second guesses about Monday’s final play, even after McDaniels missed the shot.
“He makes those shots. I see him work on them all day in practice. If I had another chance to throw it to him, I’d throw it to him again,” Edwards said. “I went over and told him (after the game) like, ‘Bruh, the next time, if they do the same thing, I’m throwing it again.’ He’ll be ready next time. He’ll make the next one.”
And if the help doesn’t come?
“If it’s just one-on-one and I can get a shot off,” Edwards said. “Then I’m going to shoot it every time.”
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