NBA: Timberwolves return to form, beat Wizards
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NBA: Timberwolves return to form, beat Wizards

/ 02:35 PM January 25, 2024

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Timberwolves Anthony Edwards NBA

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (5) shoots over Washington Wizards forward Marvin Bagley III, left, and forward Deni Avdija, right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

WASHINGTON — Anthony Edwards scored 38 points and the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Timberwolves avoided their first three-game skid of the season, beating the Washington Wizards 118-107 in the NBA on Wednesday night.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 27 points and Rudy Gobert added 19 points and 16 rebounds for the Wolves. Minnesota was coming off a home loss to lowly Charlotte in which Towns scored 62 points, a performance coach Chris Finch called “disgusting” and “immature.”

“We got cussed out about it, but eventually, you’ve got to flush it,” Edwards said.

Finch was happier with his stars’ performance this time, even when their shots weren’t falling. Edwards was 11 of 28 from the field and Towns finished 11 of 24.

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“I really liked the way the Ant-KAT combo was going tonight. It felt like it was in rhythm and they even found each other at times,” Finch said.

Deni Avdija scored a season-high 24 points for the Wizards, who dropped their fifth straight, the fourth skid of at least that many games for the league’s second-worst team. Washington has only one win this season over a team that came in with a winning record.

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Marvin Bagley III had 17 points and a season-high 15 rebounds for the Wizards, and Kyle Kuzma added 17 points, 14 boards and eight assists.

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Washington hung with Minnesota throughout the first half, and Avdija sparked a burst late in the second quarter that allowed the Wizards to push ahead 59-57 at halftime.

But the Wizards had little answer for the Wolves’ size advantage, especially after starting center Daniel Gafford picked up his fifth foul with 7:01 left in the third quarter. He exited during what became a 16-2 run for Minnesota.

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“They’re a handful. … They were very aggressive in the paint,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “It was the volume of points in the paint. Some of it was transition, some of it was offensive rebounds, some of it was just post-ups.”

Finch said his team would learn from Monday’s defeat — in which the Wolves lost cohesion while trying to help Towns have a career night — and that Edwards would be more assertive if a similar situation arose in the future.

Edwards and Towns started off cold. Each was 3 of 10 from the field late in the first half, but they heated up after halftime.

Towns scored 13 points in the third quarter. Two nights after he made eight 3-pointers in the first half, Towns missed his first six 3s before he finally got one to drop in the fourth.

“I don’t know how much better I could have shot them, but just happy to see one fall,” Towns said. “It was a long time coming. I was happy I was able to make those shots when we really, really needed them.”

Edwards had 15 points in the final period and finished 13 of 14 from the free-throw line.

“I played the whole fourth so I really was tired, trying to get my energy, so if I could get a foul call, take some deep breaths, that was the main thing,” Edwards said. “You don’t need a rhythm to get to the rim.”

Minnesota’s NBA-best defense forced 21 turnovers that the Wolves turned into 32 points.

The Wolves improved to 1-2 this season without veteran point guard Mike Conley, who sat out because of an illness. He also missed Monday’s game.

NEXT SCHEDULE

Timberwolves: At Brooklyn on Thursday night.

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Wizards: Host Utah on Thursday night.

TAGS: Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA

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