The Timberwolves were playing Wednesday night at Target Center, and I had an urge to cast my eyes on these Rosas-ians.
They haven't been much in view for us YouTube TV streamers, what with the absence of Fox Sports North, so the option was a media credential, for which I managed to obtain approval.
The social distancing is substantial for media workers at Target Center, and that was particularly so since Youngblood (Star Tribune), Frederick (Pioneer Press) and Krawczynski (The Athletic) were covering it from home.
These gents are much more adept at Zoom, the whatcha-ma-dealie on which all pregame and postgame interviews are conducted, than me. Plus, I'm assuming they are blessed with FSN, rather than relying strictly on Alan Horton's words-eye view on the radio.
The only downside to the home-bound sportswriters in COVID times is you can't take a little walk, stand 10 feet away and share a few smart-aleck remarks through masks during timeouts and quarter breaks.
It has been close to a decade since San Antonio's much-honored coach, Gregg Popovich, started giving periodic nights off to star players. That gained in popularity, and so did not asking players to take the court with moderate ailments in the middle of the NBA's relentless schedule.
This has made the pregame list of missing players longer in recent years. Now, you throw in COVID and there many times you look at a box score and say, "Why do they have the B Squad game here?''
That was the case again Wednesday. The Wolves were missing KAT, Ricky Rubio and Juancho Hernangomez due to COVID issues. The Magic was missing five players due to injuries and another with a COVID issue.
Orlando's one player of note was Nikola Vucevic, the 6-foot-11, 30-year-old center – tough inside and no longer bashful about firing up a three.
Naz Reid, KAT's much-used backup, had the task early and Vucevic was eating his dinner. Eventually, Reid and the Wolves did enough leaning on Vucevic to cause a few misses inside.
The Wolves had a run later in the first quarter, and then Vucevic took the traditional star's break at the start of the second. The horrid play was unimaginable from Orlando's collection of ragamuffins. The Wolves had a 32-6 streak.
This was when my fellow scribes were really missed, because it's not much fun to offer smart-aleck remarks only to yourself.
Vucevic returned in an attempt to stop the free fall. After less than two minutes, the Magic gave up another basket, and it looked as if Vucevic wasn't going to budge from that end of the court if coach Steve Clifford failed to call a timeout.
The Magic ordered a set play. Vucevic rolled wide open to the basket. The ballhandler stared at the big man and didn't make a pass. Steam appeared to rise from the top of Vucevic's head.
About all the Magic had going was rookie Anthony Edwards' continued rim-clanging for the Wolves: 3-for-14 on Wednesday, 8-for-30 in his last two games and 9-for-44 in his past four.
I loved Edwards the first time seeing him in person. It was clear that basketball boss Gersson Rosas made the right choice at No. 1, ahead of big man James Wiseman and point guard LaMelo Ball.
Maybe that verdict should have been withheld pending more evidence than Opening Night.
Still, an ineffective Edwards didn't seem much of an obstacle Wednesday. I left the loneliness of Target Center in the third quarter, secure in the knowledge it was impossible for the Wolves to succumb to the Magic, loser of six straight and with half of its team.
I tuned into Horton Vision for the fourth quarter. The Voice of the Wolves has seen amazing defeats in 14 seasons of radio play-by-play. He's also seen one playoff victory (Wolves 121, Rockets 105 on 4-21-2018; thanks, Thibs), so he has that going for him.
I could not believe Horton's lyin' eyes. The Magic was creeping back into the game, mostly through the Wolves' blundering. Finally, there was Jarred Vanderbilt missing two free throws with four seconds left, and rookie Cole Anthony (15th overall) chucking in a hurried three at the buzzer.
Magic 97, Wolves 96.
Anthony made two threes in the final 35 seconds and was 3-for-3 on those for the night. Edwards was 1-for-4 on threes Wednesday, he's shooting 35.9% overall and 27.5% on threes.
The misses haven't made him bashful. Looking at the frequency of shots (a number on drives, admittedly), and shaky defense, I've developed a theory:
Edwards might be better off with Andrew Wiggins than trade partner D'Angelo Russell as a teammate. That's because Russell seems to be an influencer, with both his personality and a game that says, ''Save your energy for taking shots."
Wiggy … he's more of a "you play your game and I'll play mine" guy, which might have better served Edwards.