Anthony Edwards wore a neck gaiter as he conducted his postgame interviews following Sunday's 109-104 Timberwolves victory over the Cavaliers.
Edwards pulled it down only one time during his session. It was when a reporter asked him, after he successfully went up against Cleveland's Andre Drummond, if there was any big man in the NBA he was afraid to take on in the paint.
Edwards lowered the gaiter and shook his head no, then put the gaiter back up and didn't say a word.
It was Edwards' sterling third quarter that lifted the Wolves to a much-needed victory and ended a three-game losing streak in the short term. But for the long-term health of the franchise — and for the sanity of a fan base desperate to see any progress — Sunday represented Edwards' most complete game in the NBA. He looked like he was enjoying it, laughing down the floor at Target Center after hitting a corner three and celebrating a fast-break dunk off a touchdown pass from Malik Beasley. His energy was palpable.
"People might think I was having fun because I was playing good," Edwards said. "I don't care about that. If my team is winning, everybody having great success, everybody's happy — I was just enjoying the moment. Everybody was together and just excited for each other."
There haven't been many chances to experience that this season. Edwards took the ball to the rim effectively and hit from outside (4-for-7 from three-point range) to finish with 23 points. He had five rebounds and four assists that came from his playmaking ability.
"He's starting to put together the drive-and-kick," Beasley said. "He's a great scorer, he realizes he gets a lot of attention when he drives in, kicking it out and making the right plays, so that growth there has been huge for the team."
Edwards had 11 in the third quarter as the Wolves grabbed the lead from a Cleveland team that scored 72 points in the paint behind 25 points and 22 rebounds from Drummond.
The Wolves entered the fourth quarter up 88-86 and then Edwards got some help from D'Angelo Russell (19 points), who hit three three-pointers to extend the Wolves' lead to double digits, and Beasley, who scored 23 points and continued his run as the most consistent Wolves player so far this season.
The Wolves defense also had a moment to shine. After Drummond bludgeoned a thin frontcourt, which was without Naz Reid (wrist), Karl-Anthony Towns and Juancho Hernangomez (COVID protocols), in the first half, the Wolves held Cleveland to 18 points in the fourth quarter. That included a stretch of 4 minutes, 37 seconds when Cleveland didn't score.
"We bought into the game plan and we focused on it ..." Russell said. "[If] we go away from the game plan that kills us when we need those possessions. We just locked into it, and it worked out for us."
Edwards earned his second start of the season with the Wolves down multiple players because of injuries or COVID protocols. That meant he had ample opportunity to play alongside Russell and Beasley on Sunday night. He made his mark in the third quarter as part of the second unit, but he also got started by scoring eight points in the first quarter playing off them.
"[The defense] can't help off them," Edwards said. "They can shoot. They can't help off me because I can shoot — every now and then."
Edwards didn't have to pull down his gaiter for you to know there was a smile underneath as he said that. "Every now and then" came Sunday.