Timberwolves stun Grizzlies, grab Game 1 with 130-117 win
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Anthony Edwards was glad to get a victory in the first playoff game of his career.
Now, he and the rest of the Minnesota Timberwolves, want much more.
Edwards scored 36 points in his postseason debut, and the seventh-seeded Timberwolves stunned the No. 2 seed Memphis Grizzlies 130-117 on Saturday to grab home-court advantage in the opener of their first-round Western Conference series.
“Putting on another show,” said Edwards, the top overall pick in the 2020 draft. “That’s it. Putting on another show and impact winning.”
All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns added 29 points and 13 rebounds. Malik Beasley had 23 points, and Jaden McDaniels 15. Patrick Beverley and D’Angelo Russell had 10 apiece.
The Timberwolves, fresh off beating the Los Angeles Clippers in the play-in game, won their first playoff opener since 2004. That’s when they beat Denver in the first round on their way to the Western Conference finals.
Towns said it was a good feeling walking off with a confidence-building win.
“We did a lot of little things that are needed to win,” Towns said. “We should be very proud of our performance.”
Game 2 is Tuesday night in Memphis.
Ja Morant led Memphis with 32 points and eight assists, and Dillon Brooks added 24 points. Brandon Clarke had 13 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. Desmond Bane scored 17 points and Jaren Jackson Jr. had 12.
“I feel like most of the stuff was on us,” Morant said. “That’s why we lost.”
Memphis tied the franchise record by winning 56 games in the regular season and earning its highest seed ever. The Grizzlies had a packed FedExForum for only their third Game 1 in Memphis. But they struggled early after a week off and led only twice by two, the last midway through the second quarter.
“We tried our best to stay ready, but it’s been a minute since we played,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. “But we have to come out ready to go. We didn’t in the first quarter, and we paid for it.”
In this matchup of the NBA’s top-scoring offenses and two of the league’s youngest teams this season, the Timberwolves set franchise records for points in both the first quarter and the game. They also stymied Memphis with their 3-point shooting, rebounding and defense.
The Timberwolves looked like a team that played Tuesday night needing a win to clinch its seeding. They opened with a 9-2 run and led by as much as 13 before a 41-33 lead for the franchise’s highest-scoring first quarter in the playoffs.
Minnesota led 65-62 at halftime, then outscored Memphis 32-30 in the third for a 97-92 lead going into the fourth quarter.
EDWARDS VS MORANT
This series pitting the top draft pick of the 2020 draft against the No. 2 overall pick of the 2019 draft sure delivered in this game. Edwards and Morant became the first opposing players in NBA history to each score at least 30 in a playoff game at the age of 22 or younger.
Edwards joined Derrick Rose, Tyler Herro and Magic Johnson scoring at least 35 points in a playoff game before turning 21.
“When he’s playing basketball at this kind of level, he is almost unstoppable,” Towns said. “He is unstoppable, actually.”
Timberwolves: They topped the 121 points scored April 21, 2018, against Houston in the only game they won that series. Their first quarter topped the 32 points scored May 23, 2004, in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals against the Lakers. ... Towns had his 43rd double-double of the season. ... Russell had five assists in the third quarter. But he was 2 of 11 shooting for eight points after having 37 in his last game against Memphis in February.
Grizzlies: Jackson set a franchise playoff record with seven blocks through the first three quarters. That topped the six blocks by Marc Gasol on May 13, 2013, against Oklahoma City. ... Clarke had his fifth double-double of the season. ... Jackson and Steven Adams combined for seven rebounds.
The Grizzlies hope to draw off their own playoff experience now down 0-1. Memphis won two play-in games last year and then opened the first-round series at Utah with a big win. The Grizzlies lost the next four.
“We were in the same situation last year,” Morant said. “A series can get out of hand quick.”
A woman chained herself to the basket stanchion and stopped play with 4:44 left in the second quarter. The woman wore a blue shirt, making clear she was with the animal rights group protesting a Minnesota co-owner’s factory farms, the same situation as the woman who glued herself to the floor in the Timberwolves’ play-in game earlier this week.
Zoe Rosenburg, 19, had a chain and attached herself to the back of the basket closets to the Timberwolves’ bench. She was taken to the back and removed from the arena after security personnel removed the chain from around her neck. She was arrested and being held Saturday night at the Shelby County jail on charges of disorderly conduct and trespassing.
Game 2 is Tuesday night in Memphis.
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