Russell stays clutch; Edwards gets some swagger back for the Timberwolves
Anthony Edwards’ recent struggles have been a major talking point in Timberwolves country. Over the previous four games entering Monday night, he averaged 8.8 points on 21-9-56 splits. It looked like we might be in for another stinker when he scored just two points in the Wolves’ horrendous first quarter.
But Edwards made an instant impact upon returning to the game in the second, scoring on four straight possessions before assisting on a Russell layup as Minnesota took the lead.
And then, if there was any question about getting his explosion back, Edwards answered with a few jaw-dropping drives to the basket as the Wolves’ starters redeemed themselves in the third quarter. The biggest question is why he only got 13 shots — it seems likely he would have scored a lot more than 17 points with a full workload.
There should be little question about D’Angelo Russell’s play of late, or his ability to push the Wolves over the finish line as he did in Cleveland. February was Russell’s highest-scoring month of the season thus far, and he wrapped it by coming alive in the clutch again.
After scoring 23 points in the fourth quarter in last week’s win over Memphis, Russell contributed eight in the final 6:12 to respond to the Cavaliers’ run. His late free throws were much-needed for a team that seemed a bit spooked by Cleveland’s roaring crowd.
Getting Edwards, Russell, and Towns — who also scored 17 points on just 13 shots — to score consistently at the same time has been a difficult puzzle for Minnesota this season, but maybe the successes and failures in this game showed the blueprint for how Minnesota can maximize a “baton-passing” offense: Ride the hot hand throughout the first 42 minutes, then turn to Russell and Towns as the crunch time aces.