MILWAUKEE — A few minutes after the horn sounded on the Timberwolves' 113-108 victory over Milwaukee at Fiserv Forum, Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" played to console Bucks fans as a couple dozen Wolves fans made their way down to the team's tunnel.
Anthony Edwards came by to greet them, jersey off, all smiles and gave his shoes to a fan. After a few moments Edwards disappeared into the tunnel, hands raised and then made a right past executive vice president Sachin Gupta. Edwards let out a loud "Yes, sir!" that echoed off the walls.
A day after Edwards called out himself and teammates Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell on Monday for not sharing the ball on offense, the Wolves had their first "testy" practice of the season. Towns would say after the game, "The game was won in practice."
That's because on Wednesday, the Wolves showed the past 48 hours might have brought them closer together instead of farther apart as they played their most complete game of the young season with a wire-to-wire victory over the defending champions.
"It shows that all three of us are willing to take criticism and take it the right way, not the wrong way, and grow," Edwards said.
Edwards finished with 25 points and iced the game as it got close late with a key driving bucket and a pair of free throws.
"I had it at the end, DLo was coming, I was like 'Bruh, just don't. I got it. Let me be a closer, too," Edwards said.
Instead Russell, who shot like a rec-leaguer the past two games, was the starter. He hit his first five shots on his way to a team-high 29 points, while Towns responded by keeping his composure with officials to score 25 on an efficient 9-for-13 from the field and stayed out of foul trouble.
"That's something I've always wanted," Towns said of the accountability Edwards and others brought. "… Everyone's a leader on this team, everyone has a part on this team, everyone has a key role. I want everyone to voice their opinions."
Milwaukee was without two of its key players in Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez, but it still had two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 40 points, and two-time All-Star Khris Middleton. Edwards offered a take on just how hard it was to stop Antetokounmpo in case anybody was wondering if the Bucks were easier to beat without Holiday and Lopez.
"[He's] like 7-2, 280 pounds … We put four people on him and he'll still score the ball," Edwards said. "I'm like, bruh, I ain't never seen nothing like it."
Thanks to Antetokounmpo, the Bucks were able to chop away at a Wolves lead that was 20 in the first half and 14 with just under four minutes to play. While the recently maligned offense started off hot in shooting 68% in the first, it was the Wolves' defense that was consistent throughout the second half and late to preserve the win as their shooting leveled off.
Jarred Vanderbilt (10 points, 13 rebounds) and Jaden McDaniels (three points, 11 rebounds) hit the glass with reckless abandon while Vanderbilt had to guard Antetokounmpo and McDaniels guarded Middleton for significant stretches and limited him to only 6-for-16 shooting.
Wednesday was a complete win, one that can be a rallying point early in the season. Russell didn't want to treat it as such.
"I'm trying not to speak on our potential," Russell said. "I'd rather just take it one day at a time. Not give you any quotes to run with."
But nobody is lacking for quotes while Edwards is around, and it was hard for him not to leave with a smile on his face unlike Monday as he said: "We lock up, man. … I don't care what nobody say about us, we play the best defense in the league."