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Timberwolves take down Suns 120-95 in Game 1 behind 33 points from Anthony Edwards

  • AP
  • Apr 20, 2024

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Anthony Edwards scored 18 of his 33 points in the third quarter and had nine rebounds to carry the Minnesota Timberwolves in a tone-setting 120-95 victory over the Phoenix Suns to start the first round of the playoffs on Saturday.

Karl-Anthony Towns added 19 points, Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting and Rudy Gobert locked down the lane with 14 points, 16 rebounds and constant shot-altering defense to lead the Wolves to their first Game 1 home win in the playoffs in 20 years.

Kevin Durant scored 31 points on 11-for-17 shooting to lead the Suns, whose disadvantages in depth and size were exploited. Devin Booker had 18 points on 5-for-16 shooting and Bradley Beal added 15 points, but the Suns were outrebounded 52-28 and outscored 52-34 in the paint by the Wolves.

Game 2 is in Minneapolis on Tuesday before the best-of-seven series shifts to Phoenix for Game 3.

Edwards led a 19-4 run to close the third quarter, stretching his arms wide to connect with the crowd after a couple of his biggest shots down that stretch. He stared and barked at Durant, who could only grin at the 22-year-old’s bravado.

With 3:37 left, Edwards put the bow on this performance by stealing the ball from Durant – after Gobert had poked it loose – and finishing with a slam on the other end.

His enthusiasm was contagious throughout the afternoon. After picking up his third foul late in the second quarter, Edwards was twirling a towel on the bench in tribute to the effort to take the lead into double digits for the first time in the game.

Durant, the 14-time All-Star with two championship rings who arrived in the desert a little over a year ago in the first move in the major overhaul of the roster, was in prime playoff form. Be it a fadeaway, a turnaround or a spot-up, the Wolves and their NBA -best defense had no answer when the 6-foot-10 Durant climbed into the air with his smooth jump shot.

But Booker, the anchor of the big three with Durant and Beal who’s the only player left from the 2021 team that reached the NBA Finals, had nothing to match. He couldn’t get layups to fall, let alone jumpers. Grayson Allen, the league’s leading 3-point shooter, missed all three of his shots and had just four points.

The Wolves had sellouts for every home game this season for the first time since they moved into Target Center 34 years ago. Their fans – as antsy for a postseason run as any in American pro sports – brought finals-level energy to the first round that the Wolves have not escaped since their only advancement 20 years ago, a crowd that included former (Adrian Peterson) and current (Justin Jefferson) Vikings stars.

The big-money players gave the Wolves what they needed, but one of their edges in this series ought to be a bench that backed it up with a 41-18 scoring advantage on the Suns’ reserves.

Alexander-Walker was in the thick of the second quarter surge, highlighted by his interception of a stray pass by Allen in the lane to key a fast break layup near the final minute of the half. Alexander-Walker hit a corner 3-pointer right before the third-quarter buzzer for a 20-point lead.

Wolves backup Kyle Anderson suffered a hip pointer in the second quarter and didn’t return.

Minnesota went 20 for 22 from the free-throw line. Towns was 8 for 8, and Gobert went 6 for 7.

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1234T Suns 0-12823212395 Timberwolves 1-027343128120

Game 1

MIN leads 1-0

Target Center Minneapolis, MN

TOP SCORERS
K Durant PF31PTS7REB1AST
A Edwards SG33PTS9REB6AST
team logo

Suns

STARTERSPTSREBASTPFMIN
K. Durant3171138
D. Booker1825437
B. Beal1526237
J. Nurkic941426
G. Allen452225
BENCHPTSREBASTPFMIN
R. O’Neale1440326
J. Okogie20003
N. Little20003
T. Young00003
E. Gordon021121
I. Thomas00003
D. Eubanks01029
B. Bol01003
D. Lee
U. Azubuike
I. Wainright
S. Lee
D. Roddy
Total95281619
team logo

Timberwolves

STARTERSPTSREBASTPFMIN
A. Edwards3396435
K. Towns1974426
R. Gobert14162437
J. McDaniels960237
M. Conley437527
BENCHPTSREBASTPFMIN
N. Alexander-Walker1842228
N. Reid1222119
L. Garza51003
K. Anderson20024
J. McLaughlin21003
M. Morris23309
T. Warren00003
W. Moore Jr.00002
D. Nix
J. Minott
L. Miller
J. Clark
Total120522624