MINNEAPOLIS — While fans across the globe were busy marveling at the thunderous slam from the high-rising Anthony Edwards, the Wolves’ rookie star was busy falling back to earth a night after scoring a career-high 28 points against LeBron James and the champion Lakers. That’s life as an NBA rookie. The rapid highs and lows.
Edwards went 3-15 from the floor against the Pacers on Wednesday night, ultimately missing a potential game-winning three, rattling in and out, at the buzzer. “I’ll take that shot 10 out of 10 times,” said Karl-Anthony Towns. Then, the Wolves fell apart in overtime to lose, 134-128.
“Talking to him I told him that he is going to be special,” said Ricky Rubio. “When you are not having a good night, he ended up shooting 3-of-15 but he’s not that. I have been with players, [he] reminds me a lot of Donovan Mitchell, his first couple games, got like 3-of-18. I don’t know what it is, but he kept shooting.
[Edwards] taking the last shot even with him not having his night, I told him that is what a special player does and it went in and out. He had confidence and when he missed, you could see in his face, like he was surprised to miss. When you are not having your night and you are having that attitude, that means a lot. Give him credit, he took the last shot, he wanted it more than anybody else on the team. It is going to take us time but I think with him leading the way, it’s going to take us to the land we want to be.”
The rebuttal? A touch for Towns, one of the league’s best offensive weapons. KAT and Rubio were shredding the Pacers in the pick-and-roll with Malik Beasley spotting up in the corner ready to pop one of his smooth catch-and-shoot threes. At least attempt to run the same type of action that already proved to be successful instead of an isolation pull-up three for a 19-year-old rookie that can’t buy a bucket on this cold night.
But the No. 1 pick has his teammates believing and maybe that’s the best thing in a season already past the downward spiral phase. The uber-talented rookie has gained serious steam in the past few weeks for good reason, flashing his potential as the Wolves’ have put the ball in Edwards’ hands, letting him freely rock-and-roll as a bulldozing driver with elite athleticism and pretty jumper. Was he the culprit for the loss? No. But an average performance would’ve made the Wolves particularly difficult to beat.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 30 points and 10 rebounds, Malik Beasley added 31 points in his first game of the season off the bench due to being late to walk through, and Ricky Rubio finished with a season-high 20 points and 13 assists. Rookie Jaden McDaniels made his first career start, flying around from the weakside to contest shots. He had 11 points (three treys) and three blocks in 37 minutes and it really can’t be overstated how lucky the franchise is to have landed a future star defender in the draft. I had a dream. I got everything I wanted. A young Jonathan Isaac.
Add in the fact that backup center Naz Reid totally outplaying Myles Turner to the tune of 18 points, 9 rebounds, 3 dimes, and 4 stocks—an impressive display in only 18 minutes—and the Wolves’ bench outscoring Indiana’s 57-39 and ... huh? Again? Another loss with all of those stats? Well, the defense didn’t show up in the fourth or OT. That’s an especially vital element to the woes that linger. In the voice of Thanos: It’s almost inevitable. They played well but not well enough.
Domantas Sabonis was a beast and a blast to watch with his screen setting on the elbows and perimeter, often freeing up space for drives and jumpers or playing hot potato long enough to drive the Wolves’ defense wild. His up-fakes in the post made KAT go crazy all through the night. The result? A triple-double. 36 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 rebounds. The other star in Indiana (Malcolm Brogdon) added 32 points and nine rebounds.
The duo erased a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter—something fans are all too familiar with. “I think that we got stuck,” said Rubio. “I think that when you see that you are up five with a minute left, something like that, and you have a chance to win the game, the way that we need it so desperately and then to see the ball go in and out and deflate us. Then we didn’t play right in the overtime.”
For now, everything seems the same with a team that can rarely close games. As always, alongside that, is the promise of youth. After all, the Wolves have plenty, and this time around it’s headlined by Anthony Edwards.
Maybe next time that shot will fall.