Edwards: Avoiding the sweep was personal for me

Edwards: Avoiding the sweep was personal for me

MINNEAPOLIS — Anthony Edwards wasn’t ready for his season to end. And he certainly wasn’t ready for the Denver Nuggets to send the Minnesota Timberwolves packing without winning a game in their first-round series.

“I don’t ever want to say I’ve gotten swept up in my career,” Edwards said Sunday night. “So I definitely took it personally tonight.”

With their backs against the wall, the eighth-seeded Timberwolves took down the top-seeded Nuggets 114-108 in overtime to avoid a sweep and send the series back to Denver with the Nuggets leading 3-1.

It looked like the Timberwolves were going to cruise to victory late in the game as they took a 12-point lead on an Edwards jumper with 2:52 left and a timeout from Nuggets coach Michael Malone.

From there, Denver finished regulation on a 12-0 run to send the game to overtime and silence the Target Center faithful.

The Nuggets hit three straight 3-pointers — one by Nikola Jokic and two by Michael Porter Jr. — and then Jokic hit a jumper in the lane with 48.9 seconds left to cut Minnesota’s lead to 96-95. Jokic was fouled with 12.7 seconds left and hit one of two free throws to tie the game.

Edwards had a chance to win the game in regulation but was robbed by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as he rose for a shot in the closing seconds.

“It was then, [there’s] There is nothing we can do about the last two minutes. But we can control the next five,” Timberwolves veteran point guard Mike Conley said. “Let’s come out here as a group and re-lock on what we did to get that lead.”

Despite finishing with a team-high 34 points on 12-of-27 shooting, Edwards was criticized for his play in the fourth quarter and his overall game in general.

“I played terrible if you ask me,” Edwards said. “I took three bad 3s, three terrible possessions, and I really took us out of the game. I didn’t play that well tonight.”

Edwards was 1-of-5 in the fourth quarter, his jump shot putting the Timberwolves up 12. He missed three shots before that — though one was a midrange 2-point attempt — before also missing a potential game-winner at the end of regulation.

With the win, Edwards said he knows what he would do differently if the Wolves find themselves in that position again.

“If we’re up six or eight with three minutes to go, I’m definitely going to get to the rim or get a midrange shot,” Edwards said. “I’m not going to settle. I settled for three bad, bad, terrible 3, and it won’t happen again.”

Edwards hit both of his shots in the overtime period, both coming at big moments. First, he hit a layup with 1:29 left to extend Minnesota’s lead to seven. But after the Nuggets scored on three consecutive possessions, the Wolves were again looking at a potential meltdown.

But with 11.5 seconds to play, Edwards confidently stepped in a 3-pointer after a tough crossover dribble to give the Wolves a four-point lead.

“I wasn’t passing the ball,” Edwards said. “I was taking the shot. I’ll live with whether I lost our game or we won. And I took the shot.”

“I never want to say that I’ve gotten carried away in my career. So I definitely took that personally tonight.”

Anthony Edwards

When Edwards’ shot put the Wolves up comfortably, he called Nikhil Alexander-Walker the “MVP” of the game.

With Jaden McDaniels out with a broken right hand, Alexander-Walker has taken over guarding Nuggets star Jamaal Murray. But it was Alexander-Walker’s offense that helped decide the game late.

Despite missing all three of his 3-point attempts up to that point, Alexander-Walker came up with two back-to-back corner 3s in overtime to give Minnesota the lead and then cut it to five.

“Shot ready,” said Alexander-Walker when asked what he was thinking as the ball passed to him late. “I know the rotations, watch a lot of film. Just stay prepared. I know my teammates are going to trust me because they’re making those right plays. And just trusting in my work, trusting it and Knowing that eventually averages rule, shots should fall.”

Malone was critical of his team’s defensive performance in the overtime period. After his team held the Timberwolves to just 16 points in the fourth quarter, Minnesota had 18 five minutes into overtime.

“The hardest thing to stomach about this game is that we were reluctant and unable to get the stops we needed,” Malone said.

According to ESPN Stats and Data Research, the Timberwolves became the first team to score more points in the first overtime period of a game in the fourth quarter since the Phoenix Suns (21, 17 in OT) in Game 6 of the 2006 playoffs. in the fourth quarter) against the Lakers in the first round.

Part of what allowed Minnesota to get its offense going again was ball movement. The Timberwolves had two assists while going 7-of-19 from the field in the fourth quarter but assisted on four of their six baskets in the extra period.

“I think we’ve got to keep getting something,” Wolves coach Chris Finch said. “I think that’s part of the problem we get down to [on ourselves] Or we’re trying to close the game early.”

Edwards continued his stellar postseason run, and Finch said the All-Star guard is building off of what he started a year ago. In the first 10 playoff games of his career, Edwards has scored 280 points. That’s the seventh most of any player in their first 10 playoff games since 1979, behind only Michael Jordan, Luka Doncic, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Trae Young and Allen Iverson.

It was Edwards’ fifth 30-point game in 10 games. James is the only player with a 30-point playoff performance at age 21 or younger. Edwards tied with Kobe Bryant with four.

When asked about being in the same conversation as the two legends, Edwards dismissed it.

“It’s just statistics,” Edwards said. “Those guys won championships… but I didn’t do anything. I didn’t make it out of the first round. It’s great to be mentioned with those guys, but I still have work to do.”

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