- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 31, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Anthony Edwards scored 12 of his 24 points over the final eight minutes, leading a fierce rally by the Minnesota Timberwolves for a 102-101 victory over former coach Tom Thibodeau and the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.

Edwards went 9 for 16 from the floor, with six makes in the paint.

“When he’s going downhill and he’s turning corners and getting to the heart of the defense, it lifts our entire team,” coach Chris Finch said. “We don’t have a lot of guys that can get there, to be fair. We try to do it in other ways, but he’s one that has it and he’s got a special gift.”

Karl-Anthony Towns had 18 points and 17 rebounds, and Malik Beasley highlighted his 20 points with the go-ahead 3-pointer with 37 seconds left for the Timberwolves, who outscored the Knicks 22-9 over the final 7:50. Edwards had the assist on Beasley’s big shot.

“That’s chemistry. I just sit in the corner and let him drive,” Beasley said. “His confidence is ridiculous. I trust him more than anyone on the team to get the ball and get the bucket for us and make the right play.”

The 19-year-old Edwards has not been shy with the ball, or with the self-critiques.

“We do a terrible job of coming out ready to play, as far as the whole team,” he said. “The coaches are ready, but we’re not ready.”

Julius Randle had 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for the Knicks, who led by as many as 18 points in the second quarter. R.J. Barrett scored 23 points, but his stepback jumper at the buzzer was short for the chance to win.

“I think they just wanted it more in the fourth,” Barrett said.

Edwards has plenty of room to grow, particularly defensively, but he had three blocks and three steals. He sparked the rally with a swipe of a bad pass by Elfrid Payton, turning into a fast-break layup and a three-point play after a foul by Barrett to cut the lead to 92-85. Edwards drove to the basket, which Finch prefers the No. 1 overall draft pick to do, for the tying layup at 99-all with 1:16 left. Taj Gibson’s putback gave the Knicks the lead again, before Beasley took it back.

“If you don’t come with that edge, you don’t come with the mentality that you have to play for 48 minutes, you get loose, you’re going to get knocked down,” Thibodeau said.


Only Towns and Josh Okogie remain on the roster Thibodeau had when he was fired by the Timberwolves on Jan. 6, 2019. The Knicks have the same amount of players from that team: Gibson and Derrick Rose. Thibodeau was ready with a quip when queried on a pregame video conference call with reporters if this was his first visit to Target Center since his dismissal.

“There’s a lot of arenas that I’ve parted ways with,” he said, straight-faced. “I’m comfortable here. I enjoyed my time here, and it’s great to be back.”

Deferring to the fans and the organization when asked how he hoped his time with Minnesota would be remembered, Thibodeau said, “I’m going to remember the sellouts, and I’m going to remember the playoffs.”

That postseason appearance in 2018 is the only one for the Wolves in the last 17 years.


Knicks: Payton had 17 points and four assists but three of the team’s 17 turnovers. … Rose was scratched with a sore left ankle. He played in the previous two games after missing 10 straight contests due to COVID-19.

Timberwolves: Edwards has at least one steal in 16 straight games, the NBA’s longest active streak and a new team rookie record. … Jaden McDaniels, the rookie who recently cracked the starting lineup and drew the honor of defending the All-Star Randle for the bulk of the night, had 18 points and five rebounds.


Knicks: Host Dallas on Friday, before returning to the road for three straight games starting on Saturday in Detroit.

Timberwolves: Play at Memphis on Friday and at Philadelphia on Saturday, when Sixers star Joel Embiid is expected to return from a knee injury.


More AP NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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