The Timberwolves were down five with just under three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, when a cooking Anthony Edwards drove the ball to the hoop.
There was only one man between him and the basket — LeBron James. He moved outside the restricted area and positioned himself for the charge. He also tried to shield himself as best he could from Edwards soaring into and over him.
Edwards hit him, and the official blew the whistle — offensive foul. The four-time MVP and four-time champion got the call over the rookie and the defending champion Lakers soon closed out a 112-104 victory over the Wolves.
Edwards was electrifying as he nearly brought the Wolves back from a 14-point deficit by scoring 10 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter. It seemed as if Edwards just might fly over James for a thunderous dunk. But it wasn't to be Tuesday as James led the Lakers, who were without the injured Anthony Davis, with 30 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists.
But Edwards, who said he didn't mind the offensive foul call, injected a lot of fun into the proceedings and was on a mission after he played poorly in a 127-91 loss to the Lakers earlier this season.
"Last time I played versus the Lakers, I played very bad," Edwards said. "I feel like as a team, we played very bad. We were scared, we were intimidated. I just took it personal and took it upon myself to show that I don't care who I'm going against, I'm still going to play the same way that I played against somebody that's not the Lakers."
Earlier in the day, the Wolves learned they would be without guard D'Angelo Russell for four to six weeks after he undergoes arthroscopic surgery to clean a "loose body" in his left knee, according to a team release.
The silver lining in losing might be more opportunities for Edwards to develop his game in clutch situations such as Tuesday. But Edwards and the Wolves have to figure out a way to get Karl-Anthony Towns more touches in those moments as well. Towns had 15 points on 7-for-10 shooting. He shot only one three-pointer the whole night — and didn't shoot at all in the fourth quarter.
Towns, in a diplomatic way, said he hoped he would get the ball more in those times in future games.
"Obviously in the fourth quarter, I would've liked to get a touch and try to help our team offensively. But it just wasn't called for me,"
Towns said. " 'Ant' was having it going. So I just tried to do my best to space the floor for my guys, get them guys open."
Added coach Ryan Saunders: "We don't ever want to go a whole quarter without KAT shooting the ball. Then again, guys are rooting for each other. Ant had it going a little bit, so we kind of played through him right there."
Point guard Ricky Rubio, who had 13 points and eight assists, was emphatic that Towns has to get the ball late. First, Rubio offered a helping of praise for Edwards.
"There's certain people who are a joy to be around, and they deserve to have that moment," Rubio said. "… For a No. 1 pick to come to a team and come off the bench, he didn't say a word. … Now his time is up, and he shows off big. When that happens, you just have to be happy for the way he has been patient."
But Rubio also said Towns has to get the ball, and hinted that might come at Edwards' expense.
"I don't want to take nothing from what [Edwards] did in the fourth quarter. [Don't] take anything in the wrong way here," Rubio said. "But this is a team sport and KAT's gotta get the ball at the end because he's our best player. But that being said, [Edwards] made big plays down the stretch."
With Russell out, Edwards will likely get the chance for a lot more of those, but the Wolves would like Towns to see a few touches, too.