MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Anthony Edwards had 29 points, five steals and three blocks to lead Minnesota to a 109-101 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night in the first game of an extended absence for injured Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns.
Jaylen Nowell added 24 points off the bench and D’Angelo Russell had 15 points and 10 assists for the Timberwolves, who forced a season-high 27 turnovers by the Grizzlies and snapped a three-game losing streak despite being outrebounded 59-29 in this sloppy but spirited matchup.
Ja Morant scored 24 points and Jaren Jackson Jr. had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who lost their cool down the stretch with successive ejections for Dillon Brooks and Morant.
Grizzlies rookie David Roddy, who finished 13 points and five rebounds in his native city, hit a pair of 3-pointers and a short jumper on three consecutive possessions midway through the fourth quarter. Then Edwards sprang to life with a tiebreaking 3-pointer and a block on Brandon Clarke’s layup that sparked a break he finished with a one-handed slam and a 90-85 lead.
Edwards and Brooks each picked up a technical foul for jawing at each other with 3:13 left after Edwards felt contact to his face while Brooks was defending him. Then Edwards made two drives on Brooks for hard-fought layups and fed a lob to Rudy Gobert for a dunk to delight a crowd that hasn’t had much to be excited about lately.
The Grizzlies made their first visit to Minnesota since they closed out the first-round matchup last spring in Game 6 with their third rally of the series from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit. Morant, who was coming off a triple-double in a win at New York, had seven turnovers.
The Timberwolves took the court on a three-game losing streak, having surrendered 279 points over their previous two contest and lost Towns in the process. The arrival of Rudy Gobert and the pairing of two 7-footers has been uneven at best for the entire lineup, so if there’s an upside to Towns being out it’s the opportunity the Wolves have to improve their spacing on offense and get Edwards going as the unquestioned No. 1 scoring option.
Kyle Anderson drew the start against his former team for Towns and pitched in 10 points, six rebounds and five assists. Naz Reid saw extended time inside and gave the Wolves seven points, a career-high tying five blocks and plenty of energy on both ends of the court.
Gobert was mostly out of it, finding himself in foul trouble early and picking up a technical for complaining about his second one midway through the first quarter.
When Edwards stole an errant pass by Morant to ignite a 3-on-1 break, Russell’s drop pass set Gobert up for an emphatic slam during a 16-2 run by the Wolves in the third quarter. That was Gobert’s first made basket.
Grizzlies: Bane missed his eighth game in a row with a sprained toe. … Backup Jake LaRavia (sore foot) was scratched. … Roddy played about 4 miles from where he was a high school star for Breck.
Timberwolves: Rookie Wendell Moore Jr., who had logged a total of 11 minutes to date, got his first career start in place of Jaden McDaniels, who missed his third consecutive game with an illness. … Backups Jordan McLaughlin (strained calf, fifth straight game) and Taurean Prince (shoulder subluxation, fourth straight game) were still sidelined.
Grizzlies: Host Philadelphia on Friday night.
Timberwolves: Host Oklahoma City on Saturday night.