NBA: Anthony Edwards fuels Timberwolves 3-0 lead over Suns
NBA

NBA: Anthony Edwards fuels Timberwolves 3-0 series lead over Suns

/ 03:32 PM April 27, 2024

Minnesota Timberwolves NBA Anthony Edwards

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Mike Conley (10) celebrates with guard Anthony Edwards (5) against the Phoenix Suns during the second half of Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Friday, April 26, 2024, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — Anthony Edwards hit a jumper late in the fourth quarter and snarled as he ran down the court, pounding his chest with his fist for emphasis as Minnesota pulled away for another dominant playoff win.

The Timberwolves are the undeniable alpha dogs through three games of this increasingly lopsided series.

Edwards scored 36 points, Rudy Gobert added 19 points and 14 rebounds and the Timberwolves used a hot-shooting third quarter to beat the Phoenix Suns 126-109 on Friday night and take a 3-0 lead in the first-round matchup.

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“We’re just embracing the moment,” Gobert said. “We have only one goal in mind and we’re trying to make sure we don’t get distracted by the success or the ups and downs. We’re just locked in.”

Minnesota goes for the sweep in Game 4 on Sunday in Phoenix.

The Wolves never trailed on Friday.

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“This is a team you need to dictate terms with,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said. “You don’t want to get behind big on them because of the way they can shoot the ball. That’s been part of our messaging, part of our emphasis, we have to get off to good starts.”

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It was the third straight game the Wolves used a big third to turn a tight game into a comfortable victory. Minnesota hit 7 of 11 3-pointers during the surge, including four from Nickeil Alexander-Walker, to take a 22-point lead into the fourth.

Bradley Beal led the Suns with 28 points while Kevin Durant had 25 and Devin Booker 23. The rest of the team scored just 33 points.

The 7-foot-1 Gobert said he’s noticed the Suns being hesitant to drive in the lane when he’s there.

READ: NBA playoffs: Timberwolves take 2-0 lead on Suns

“That’s what I do best,” Gobert said. “I try to be a presence, give confidence to my teammates, making sure I’m there for them. I’m trying to get some blocks, but they don’t really try me. So at the end of the day, that’s better than any block.”

Minnesota had a six-point halftime lead and stretched its advantage to 69-58 early in the third after back-to-back 3-pointers from Mike Conley and Karl-Anthony Towns. Late in the third, Alexander-Walker hit his fourth 3-pointer of the quarter for a 95-73 lead.

The Wolves were also dominant on the glass, finishing with a 50-28 rebounding advantage. Edwards shot 12 of 23 from the field and hit all 11 of his free throws while adding nine rebounds and five assists.

“We got killed on the boards. This is a bigger, stronger team,” Suns coach Frank Vogel said. “We’ve got to compete and win the 50-50 balls. I thought our guys gave the effort, but it wasn’t enough.”

Six Minnesota players scored in double figures. Towns finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds while Alexander-Walker scored 16.

The listless Suns could never cut the deficit to single digits in the fourth. Now they’re one loss away from what would be a bitterly disappointing season after entering the year with championship aspirations. By the end of the third quarter, there were scattered boos coming from the home crowd.

Booker said he couldn’t blame them.

“We put ourselves in a hole and we’ve got to dig ourselves out of it,” Booker said. “So that’s that.”

Phoenix’s Josh Okogie, who had eight points, was ejected late in the fourth after a hard foul on Gobert.

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The Timberwolves led 59-53 at the halftime break following a competitive first half. Edwards led the Wolves with 16 points while Durant had 14 for the Suns. Eric Gordon gave Phoenix a spark with 10 points in the first quarter, but it was short lived.

The Suns played without starting guard Grayson Allen, who led the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage this season. Allen’s dealing with a sprained ankle from Game 1 that he aggravated in Game 2.

TAGS: Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves

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