Anthony Edwards already knew he wasn't playing well, but in case he needed any reinforcement to confirm that, the Timberwolves coaching staff challenged him entering the fourth quarter vs. Golden State.
"We told him it was time for him to wake up and start playing," coach Chris Finch said. "He wasn't in attack mode most of the night."
Edwards didn't take long to activate "attack mode." He scored 18 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter of a 126-114 victory Thursday. It's the Wolves' fourth victory in a row — their longest winning streak of the season, the current longest active winning streak in the NBA and the franchise's 1,000th victory.
"When [Finch] told me I was like, 'All right, I'm going to go out here and see what I got,' and it happened," Edwards said.
Edwards wasted little time taking over in the fourth, scoring 16 in the first six minutes. He had it going from deep (3-for-6 from three-point range in the quarter) and when he attacked the rim. He quickly turned a 91-89 Wolves deficit into a 106-99 lead.
The Wolves were then able to keep Stephen Curry from going bonkers down the stretch despite his 37 points. Karl-Anthony Towns had 22 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, and Ricky Rubio finished with a season-high 26 points. Former Wolves forward Andrew Wiggins had 27 points in his first game back in Target Center.
To Rubio, Edwards' night is emblematic of where the Wolves can go if the rookie brings that type of effort on a consistent basis.
"This team is going to be as good, for real, as Ant wants it," Rubio said. "We know what KAT can bring to the table. We know what [D'Angelo Russell] can bring to the table, but Ant, he has to bring it every night."
Edwards was able to feed off the crowd — the Wolves are 6-0 when they play in front of fans in Target Center — to get going. After the game, he hammed it up with some fans on his way to the tunnel, smiling as he exited.
"I'm just happy to see the fans in the building," Edwards said. "They've just got to stick with us. We've got something special, and we're going to change it around really fast, so as long as they stick with us, we're going to be pretty good."
They can be pretty good when the charismatic Edwards plays like he did in the fourth quarter because his play and energy is contagious, Finch said. It's a quality that not every player has. After Edwards' hot streak, the Wolves extended their lead to double digits and the Warriors never threatened late.
"He has a swagger and a confidence and a belief that he is a great player and he's going to continue to be a great player, and that's through all the things that he doesn't yet even know," Finch said. "You can't teach that, you can't coach that. He's got grit and determination in a lot of ways. He's a self-made kid, and he's always been able to do it. It's his life story, so why shouldn't it carry over onto the floor?"
The Wolves have finally been able to carry over a lot of the principles they have talked about wanting to instill in their team all season. They had one of their best rebounding nights with a 57-34 edge. Their defense played well enough to win.
All this winning has led to a happier locker room, a much different place from the first half of the season.
"Shorter talks in the locker room after the game, you know what I'm saying? More camaraderie within the team," Edwards said. "Everybody is talking to everybody, laughing, playing music, and we're just excited.
"Winning feels great. If you don't feel great after a win, then I don't know what it takes."