Anthony Edwards wasn’t going to have an off night on “AE1” night. Turns out, Karl-Anthony Towns DEFINITELY wasn’t going to have an off night on “AE1” night, either.
In celebration of the launch of Edwards’ signature shoe on Friday, the Minnesota Timberwolves converted their Saturday night game against Indiana into a celebration of the release against a shorthanded Indiana Pacers team without its best player in Tyrese Haliburton.
Things started out rocky with Minnesota trailing for a majority of the first half. Indiana was at a major size disadvantage, and the Wolves exploited that on the offensive end. Karl-Anthony Towns got off to a hot start against multiple mismatches. He posted 20 first half points and made it look easy.
The same could not be said for the other end of the floor. Rudy Gobert got drawn out of the paint early on, and the Pacers ended the first half winning the points in the paint and rebounding battles.
Wolves up 2 at half.— Andrew Carlson (@andrew_carlson2) December 17, 2023
Anthony Edwards is starting to take over on his night. Good sign.
BUT, Indiana is at a major size disadvantage and is winning both the points in the paint (32-26) and rebounding (23-17) battles.
Improve that and Wolves fans leave Target Center even happier
But it didn’t last for long.
With Towns and Edwards as co-pilots, Towns posting a season-high 40 points, Edwards had 37 of his own and sealed a successful night.
Towns, Edwards on Fire
Towns and Edwards took after a Major League pitching staff tonight. An effective start bled into a formidable close, and all throughout kept the Wolves afloat long enough to break the game open in the second half and turn on the afterburner.
KAT’s fast start in particular helped the Wolves tread water. The Pacers got off to a 12-6 start, and Towns scored all six. The x-factor in that was his matchup. It started out with Obi Toppin, who he was able to take off the dribble and get to the bucket on with ease, and parlayed into Aaron Nesmith (you can probably guess how that ended up going).
“They didn’t really have an answer for KAT all night,” Head Coach Chris Finch said afterwards. “I thought whenever we wanted, we could always go back there; he carried us early. We were looking at being down big again.”
A security blanket would be a great way to put it.
“KAT’s superpower is efficiency. His efficiency covers a lot of inefficiency,” Finch added.
His night culminated in MVP chants at the free throw line in the fourth quarter. It was cool moment for someone who has endured a lot of tough games in a Timberwolves uniform.
“I think I’ve shown in my career that I’m willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to help this team win as many games as possible,” Towns said. It certainly went that way tonight, and one that meant a lot to one of his teammates.
Target Center standing ovation for Anthony Edwards + Karl-Anthony Towns pic.twitter.com/BMon4ZBlGp— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) December 17, 2023
Edwards had a slightly different game trajectory to his 40-point counterpart.
A normal criticism on Edwards, on nights he possibly could be off is that he presses a little bit too much. In the case of Saturday night, it was a little bit different.
Ant drew a TJ McConnell matchup early on and couldn’t get his shot going early on. He finished the first quarter with 0 points on 0-4 shooting. On the bright side, he was an incredibly willing passer.
Jaden McDaniels corner 3, assisted by Anthony Edwards pic.twitter.com/1079wP8mpm— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) December 17, 2023
But the second quarter is where things took a turn for the better. He went for 18 points on 6-7 shooting, including a perfect 4-4 from three. It’s been an emphasis from the coaching staff this season for him to take care of the little things throughout games. Starting out passive and finding his spot to attack was certainly a sign of him compounding that over from his 11 assist, +20 game against the Dallas Mavericks.
From that hot second quarter on, the marriage of games between the Wolves’ two best players was history, and the two-point lead that Minnesota took into halftime would be the closest the game ended up being from that point on.
- Mike Conley became the 6th active player to reach the 6,000 career assist milestone. HE joins Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. Pretty solid group if you ask me.
- Jaden McDaniels left the game in the third quarter and went back to the locker room. He was grabbing at his tailbone for a lot of the game, and was later ruled out with a contusion. Troy Brown played well in his absence, but his status for Monday will be something to monitor.
- Perhaps the most underrated stat of the game was 10 assists from Kyle Anderson. He and Conley combined for 19. After the game, he mentioned that with the way the offense was flowing, they were some of the easiest assists that he’s gotten.
The Wolves will head down to South Beach for a date with Jimmy Butler and the Heat on Monday night. Courtesy of Butler, the Heat won on a buzzer beater against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night.
Minnesota won its last date with the Heat handily at Target Center, one in which Jimmy Butler did not take part in. A win against Miami means the Wolves would start another winning streak, going for their third straight.