Anthony Edwards and Naz Reid are rekindling the fun in Timberwolves basketball

MINNEAPOLIS — For all his explosive athleticism and amazing talent, there’s nothing more powerful in Anthony Edwards’ game than the smile that wrinkles his face as he takes over.

You can galvanize a timber wolves team that has been so hard to watch at various points this season. You can bring a concerned crowd at the Target Center to their feet. He can bring an opponent going through a slump of the season to its knees.

After a slow, frustrating and exhausting start to the season, Edwards is smiling a lot more these days. He is finding his sweet spot as a playmaker and scorer, helping the Timberwolves transform from a team that was near the top of the league in bad body language to a light-hearted bunch on a three-game winning streak.

“I think he’s the happiest I’ve seen him in a long time.” naz reid he said Monday night after a 116-106 victory over the dallas mavericks. “That’s where it starts. When you’re at your best, I feel like you bring that energy and that excitement. It’s just a ripple effect, and it trickles down to the next person and now everyone’s excited for the next person.”

Edwards had 27 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists, two blocks and just one turnover against the Mavericks, one night after a monstrous line of 37 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds in a 150-126 win over the Mavericks. Chicago Bulls. The Wolves improved to 16-15 on the season, outscoring Dallas (15-16) and Utah (17-16) to move into eighth place in the Western Conference.

For the first time this season, the Timberwolves were the team buzzing with good vibes, while their opponent was the one looking totally uncomfortable and disconnected.

rebels star Luka Doncic he seemed to be going through the motions Monday night, throwing lopsided jumpers on offense, lobbying for fouls and shaking his head at teammates after turnovers. He may have been hampered by a right quad strain that kept him out of last game, and he was definitely hampered by Jaden McDaniels’ long arms and quick feet. Dončić was 1-for-9 when McDaniels guarded him closely and finished with 19 points on 5-of-17 shooting with four turnovers.

The only time Dončić looked like himself on Monday night was when he orchestrated turning McDaniels off and on. jaylen nowell on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter. He backed Nowell into the paint and fouled on one and hit a step back 3 on the other. But McDaniels, Edwards and austin rivers everything made him work for everything he got, and with two minutes left in the third quarter, Dončić seemed to have enough.

After not receiving a call on the offensive end, Dončić returned to the court and muttered something to referee Rodney Mott. There was no movement or demonstrative gesture, but Mott gave him two quick technical fouls and sent him off. Dallas coach Jason Kidd stormed the court to protest and was promptly ejected as well. Edwards made all four free throws to put the Wolves up 20, and they never looked back.

It was the culmination of a night of frustration and uninspired play by the Mavericks, the second night in a row an opponent looked completely out of place.

The Bulls came into the Target Center on Sunday night losing six in eight games and showing zero sense of urgency and even less desire to play a little defense. The Wolves put a franchise record for points on the Bulls, shooting over 61 percent from the field, and had a lot of fun doing it.

After a start to the season in which he was slow-paced and, by his own admission, a little out of shape, the rebounding is back on the pace for Edwards in a big way. With rudy goberto Y Karl-Anthony Towns Out due to injuries, the Timberwolves have leaned their offense toward Edwards, putting the ball in his hands and asking him to be a creator and playmaker to a higher degree than ever before.

There was a time when Edwards was reluctant to take on that responsibility, saying he wasn’t as comfortable with the ball as he was without it. Now in his third season, and recognizing the team’s need for him right now, Edwards is embracing the role. He has 27 assists in his last three games, injecting the once-stalled Wolves offense with ball movement that creates open shots and smiley faces.

The ramifications are far reaching. D’Angelo Russell he’s gone from the lead point guard who seemed torn between looking for his own shot and making his teammates go to an off-the-ball gun burning the nets into catch-and-shoot opportunities that arise from Edwards’ decision-making. He scored nine points on 4-of-13 shooting against Dallas, but in the previous six games he averaged 26.7 points on 52 percent shooting from deep.

“I go home and brag to my brothers and my friends about me and (their) chemistry and these last few games, how it allowed us to build trust in each other first,” Russell said after scoring 28 points and hitting seven 3-pointers. against the bulls. “Then it shows with the rest of the guys: the Austins, the Kyle Andersons, the Nazs.”

But Edwards is doing more than just dropping dimes to his teammates. He’s still attacking the rim, pressuring the defense to tend to him while he stays at home with his teammates spread out across half court.

Suddenly, there’s a flux in the Timberwolves’ offense, and it’s resulting in 3-pointers finally starting to drop. In their first 28 games of the season, Wolves were 25 in the nba with a 33 percent conversion rate in 3s. During this three-game winning streak, they are first in the league at 47.5 percent. It’s a small sample size, but the vision test matches the analyses. The Wolves players seem much more comfortable shooting with pace, and the brands are opening up the offense.

“The ball is exploding,” said Rivers, who had 16 points and was 3-for-4 from 3-point range. “Ant is taking what the defense is giving him. You can see that he is reading it now. They’re doubling it, they’re doubling it, you can see he’s watching, he’s throwing it to the pop.”

“When you have the ball on every play, you can see everything,” Edwards said after the win over Chicago. “A while ago, I was in the corner, I came out, I was just thinking, like, shoot. But now I’m up to date all the time, so I can see everything. So it’s pretty silly. In fact, it’s fun, like I’m having more fun than ever playing basketball.”

It means everything to these Timberwolves. For all the veteran talent they have in Towns, Gobert and Russell, this team is never more beautiful to watch and never more connected as a group than when Edwards is flying down the court, attacking the rim and smiling all the while.

Reid has been another powerhouse at the center of the max-contract big two. After leaving the Bulls game early with a shoulder and neck injury, Reid returned to the starting lineup against Dallas and got away with it. christian wood. Reid outplayed him time and time again, scoring 27 points with 13 rebounds and two steals.

“Anything we ask him to do, he just keeps delivering,” coach Chris Finch said.

During waiting times, Reid would put an ice pack on her shoulder to try to ease the pain. With Gobert and Towns out and the big guys backing up nathan knight Y Lucas Garza getting into early foul trouble, Reid played 40 minutes. Whatever it takes for a team to finally feel good about itself.

“Everybody wants to see the next guy happy,” Reid said. “This is exactly how it’s supposed to be.”

The challenge ahead is to maintain this cohesion and happiness when Gobert and Towns return. Gobert should be back fairly soon after recovering from a sprained ankle. Towns will likely still be out for a while with his injured right calf. When the two were in the lineup, the Wolves’ offense seemed clumsy and clogged. Edwards seemed to struggle as hard as anyone to find space at the rim and hit perimeter shooters.

But Wolves believe there were signs of progress even before all the injuries forced them to have a smaller appearance. Edwards was beginning to see some of the passing lanes that he had missed earlier in the season. Before he sprained his ankle, Gobert was playing hard, gobbling up rebounds and shoring up the Wolves defense. Russell was finding a rhythm for him as a shooter.

“We’ve had so many injuries and so much inconsistency in a lot of the things we’ve done this year that it’s really hard to gauge what we’ve had or find a rhythm with it,” Finch said. “Right now we have a rhythm. The guys who deserve to play are going to play.”

The Wolves can be forgiven if they are not yet ready to discuss in detail how they will reinstate their lost stars. The season has been a grind, and now they’re just starting to have fun. Towns and Gobert were in the midst of celebrating as they watched from the sidelines, elated by players chasing the Bulls and Mavs.

After the game on Monday night, the locker room was packed. Russell and Rivers were cracking jokes, Edwards got into the cold tub to take care of his body, and Reid and McDaniels talked about how they get energy and inspiration from each other. It’s only three games, but it has to start somewhere, and it’s starting with Edwards.

“Like Naz said, he thinks they’re feeding off my energy and I’m feeding off their energy,” Edwards said.

In the final two minutes of the game, Edwards came within one assist of the first triple-double of his career. He moved to his left, then found Reid at the top of the key, one of his favorite places on the floor. Reid’s 3-pointer went halfway down the pipe and spun out, and Edwards put his hands to his head in mock disgust.

With the game in hand, Finch sent the players off the bench, not wanting to risk injuring a player who bursts onto the scene. Edwards raised his hands and tossed the ball toward Finch with playful disgust.

“He knew it was all love,” Edwards said, a beaming smile on her face.

As he watched his missed shot that cost Edwards a triple-double and himself a 30-point night, all Reid could do was smile.

“I’m like, bro, that’s supposed to drop,” Reid said. “It’s fun. Stuff like that is fun. That’s just winning basketball.”

For the first time this season, the Timberwolves are fun. It is no coincidence that the victories follow.

(Picture of Anthony Edwards: Matt Krohn / USA Today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *