Dillon Brooks picked the wrong moment to make Anthony Edwards mad.
After Brooks fouled Edwards with 3 minutes and 13 seconds remaining Wednesday at Target Center, the two exchanged a few words and drew technical fouls.
That was a small price Edwards had to pay for what was to come. He took over from there and turned a three-point Timberwolves lead into a 109-101 victory. Edwards provided offense with 29 points and he also had five steals to lead a Wolves defensive effort that forced 27 turnovers.
"I just took what they was giving me," Edwards said. "If they was going to be in the gaps, I was going to pass it. If they was not going to be in the gaps, I was going to go shoot it. So whatever they gave me."
This Wolves season hasn't had a lot of joy, and the news that Karl-Anthony Towns would be out indefinitely because of a right calf strain just added to the team's list of worries.
Edwards is often the encapsulation of joy. His energy can light up the home crowd, but there haven't been many moments for him to do that. After his scuffle with Brooks, the glint in his eye was back.
Edwards scored eight points after that moment with Brooks and assisted on an alley-oop to Rudy Gobert. Soon enough he was egging on the crowd after Brooks got ejected for arguing with officials. It had the feel of many moments from last season, when Edwards often conducted the chorus.
"It definitely felt like a playoff game, for sure," Edwards said.
The timing of Wednesday's win couldn't have been better for the Wolves (11-11), who had lost three straight and fell below .500 before Towns fell to the floor in Monday's game against Washington. It was also perfect timing for Edwards to turn in one of his best games of the season.
Coach Chris Finch has said Edwards is increasing his voice as a leader in the locker room, and the Wolves are going to need Edwards to step up in every way with Towns out.
"Guys like Austin [Rivers], Taurean [Prince], Slo-mo [Kyle Anderson] are just helping me in that aspect as far as when to say stuff, when not to say stuff, saying the right things," Edwards said.
His teammates seem to respond.
"Big teammate guy," said guard Jaylen Nowell, who had 24 points. "Big people person."
Towns' injury wasn't the only one the Wolves had to overcome. They were also without Jaden McDaniels (illness), Prince (shoulder) and Jordan McLaughlin (left calf), all of whom figure to get significant time when healthy. So Finch got creative with his lineups, including the starting group, which featured rookie Wendell Moore Jr. making his first NBA start.
Moore said he didn't know he was going to start until about 10 minutes before the team's pregame meeting.
"I was definitely surprised," Moore said. "... I just wanted to do everything I can to help our team win."
That meant guarding Grizzlies guard Ja Morant, who scored 24 points on 8-for-20 shooting. Edwards said the team drew a lot of energy from Moore's night, which included seven points.
"Huge impact tonight. All credit goes to him," Edwards said. "... He actually got some big blocks for us that they probably didn't give to him. They thought I had it, but he had it. So he was huge tonight, man."
Wednesday win wasn't perfect. The offense stalled at times, especially in the first half. The Wolves weren't complaining. Memphis may have outrebounded Minnesota an eye-popping 59-29, but the Wolves had Edwards. The was enough Wednesday, and the Wolves will do whatever it takes to get by these next several weeks without Towns.
"I think we proved to ourselves that we can do it," Nowell said. "This gave us the confidence to continue to play as hard as we can. ... We continue to have guys step up and with other guys coming back too within that time period, I think we have nowhere to go but up."