Anthony Edwards’ confidence pays off as the Timberwolves defeat Kyrie and Luka in a wild final play to clinch the win

Despite only being in his third year, Anthony Edwards is one of the most confident players in the league. That quality often shines through in interviews off the court and on the offensive end, but on Monday night, his belief in his defense helped save the game for the Minnesota Timberwolves in their 124-121 win over the Dallas Mavericks.

For most of the night, the Timberwolves sailed smoothly. They jumped out to an early double-digit lead in the first quarter and extended their lead to 26 points by the end of the third. In the fourth quarter, however, Kyrie Irving took over and scored 26 points alone on the board. With 14.9 seconds left, the Mavs had the ball and trailed by three with a chance to tie it.

At that point, the Wolves had the decision to make. Would they play out or miss to send the Mavs to the line and avoid a potential tying drive? They decided for the former and engineered an impressive defensive possession to clinch the win.

The work began even before the ball entered the field, when Jaden McDaniels took Luka Doncic out of his seat and forced a difficult pass – which he managed to deflect into the backcourt. Though Doncic recovered the ball, he cost the Mavericks precious time and foreshadowed what the rest of their possession would look like. Three times in a row, the Mavericks tried and failed to create space for a 3-pointer, but each time it was suffocated. First Edwards on Irving, then McDaniels on Doncic, then a combination of the two on Irving. The Mavericks never took a shot and Irving ended up turning.

Ultimately, Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch asked the team if they wanted to foul; Edwards would not accept.

“Man, they warmed up late in the game”, Edwards he said. “We had to try to calm them down. Me and Jaden, the coach, we asked if we wanted to commit a foul. I said, ‘Dude, let’s stop.’ That’s what me and Jaden are here for; we’re here to get a stop. So , put us in the top two players and see what we do.”

This has been a disappointing season for the Lobos, at least relative to expectations. But after Monday’s win, they are now 15-8 since Jan. 1, thanks in large part to a defense that ranks 10th in the league over that period with 113.4 points allowed per 100 possessions. For the season, they are now 31-29, which puts them eighth in the hotly contested Western Conference — at once a game behind fourth, but just two games ahead of 12th.

If they want to keep fighting for a top-six spot, they’ll need a more defensive effort, as Edwards and McDaniels showed on Monday’s final possession, when their tenacity proved too much for the Mavericks’ new star duo.

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