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MINNEAPOLIS — Anthony Edwards scored a career-high 34 points and threw down another monster dunk as the short-handed Minnesota Timberwolves held on to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 114-112 on Sunday.
At 19 years and 221 days old, Edwards became the youngest player in Timberwolves history with a 30-point game.
“No matter if I’m playing good or bad, if it’s time for a big-time shot, I always want the ball no matter what,” Edwards said of his fourth quarter, in which he scored 13 points. “That’s just who I am, but it just happened to be a good game. I was just telling them to give me the ball and get out of the way.”
Ricky Rubio added 15 points, including eight free throws in the final seconds. Karl-Anthony Towns had 13 points as Minnesota started with just 10 players after rookie Jaden McDaniels was added to the health and safety protocols before the game.
Neither team could pull away for three quarters, with the largest lead being just six points for the squads playing without several key players and on the second game of a back-to-back.
Minnesota started to pull away early in the fourth and it wasn’t surprising to see Edwards in the middle of the action.
The No. 1 overall draft pick left the game for several minutes after a mid-air collision with Blazers center Enes Kanter but later returned after being examined by the athletic trainer. He drained three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and punctuated the performance with a flying dunk down the middle of the lane with 4:09 remaining to give the Wolves a 10-point advantage.
“I be smiling every time because I know people don’t wanna jump because of what they saw a couple weeks ago or like a month ago,” Edwards said of the dunk, referencing his now-famous jam over Toronto Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe on Feb. 19. “So I just try to, you know, power dunk it every time to put even more fear into them so they don’t want to jump at all.”
Despite another incredible feat of athleticism, Edwards did most of his damage behind the 3-point line in Sunday’s game. He had a career-high six 3s, his 13th game with at least three in a game, marking the second-most such games as a rookie in team history. Stephon Marbury had 15 in 1997.
“He’s fearless,” coach Chris Finch said of Edwards. “That’s what you want from all your great offensive players — fearless — and as he learns the NBA and learns his own game and tries to master those individual situations that he finds himself in, which he will over time. It’s fun to see him playing like that, for sure.”
The Timberwolves have now won two of their past three games and are 2-6 under Finch, who replaced Ryan Saunders as head coach last month.
Edwards said he received a text from someone who believes the team — which still has the league’s worst record — is about to start a winning streak.
“It’s just crazy, but I feel like we can go on a large, tremendous winning streak,” Edwards said. “If we just stay locked in and engaged on everything that we’re doing, we can go on a winning streak.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.