As Anthony Edwards drove to the basket with the Timberwolves down two and under 45 seconds to play, he wasn't planning on kicking the ball out to Malik Beasley.
Then Edwards saw Knicks guard Elfrid Payton coming toward him, and here's what happened next, told as only the gregarious and confident Edwards can.
"I was about to turn and fade until I saw Payton came and doubled. I was like, 'He crazy,' " Edwards said. "I saw Beas in the slot and I kicked it, and when I kicked it you can see I just held my hands up. I knew it was good."
Because Beasley's three from the left wing was in fact "good," the Wolves came away with a 102-101 victory over the Knicks to spoil the return of former Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau to Target Center.
With the Knicks focusing most of their defensive efforts on Karl-Anthony Towns (20 points, 17 rebounds on 7-of-18 shooting), it was Edwards who took over down the stretch. Though to say he took over is to undersell it. Edwards, who finished with 24 points, three blocks and three steals, commanded the quarter, getting two steals for easy buckets when the Wolves were making their push to erase a 10-point deficit with 7 minutes, 14 seconds to play.
Edwards had the ball in his hands late against Thibodeau's top-five defensive unit, and Edwards cut through it with ease to score seven points before setting up Beasley for the winning three.
Edwards said he took advice from associate head coach David Vanterpool, who told him it appeared as if the Knicks were going to trap him late on screens, but it "wasn't real."
"I realized the trap was flawed," Edwards said.
Then he found Beasley at the right moment when they doubled him toward the rim. The Knicks missed twice in the final seconds as Julius Randle (26 points) and RJ Barrett misfired on potential go-ahead shots as Beasley's shot and Edwards' smart play held up for the win.
"It was a great pass," said Beasley, who scored 20 points. "He trusted me, put the team on his back the whole fourth quarter. We did it together, man."
They also decided to do their postgame Zoom interviews together, with Edwards pulling up a chair alongside Beasley as he was answering his first question.
"From now on, we do our interviews together," Edwards said.
"His confidence is ridiculous," Beasley said. "I trust him more than anyone on the team to get the ball and get the bucket for us and make the right play. I just tell him all the time, I'm in your corner. If they help, if they mess up, if not, it's a wide-open bucket for you."
Wide-open buckets were hard to come by early for the Wolves, but another 19-year-old, Jaden McDaniels, helped pull the lid off the hoop with four first-half threes. McDaniels had 18 points while guarding New York's best player in Randle. McDaniels has drawn those kind of assignments of late — to guard the other team's best player. It left his coach, Chris Finch, to give him some of the highest praise he has given of any player since arriving in Minnesota.
"What he's doing at the defensive end of the floor right now is special. ... It's as special as what we're seeing 'Ant' can do on offense. It's as special as anything you've seen," Finch said. "I can't remember a 19-year-old defender [McDaniels is 20], rookie, coming in having this type of impact, battling the multitude of positions and making a great impact for his team and his teammates."
In an otherwise miserable season, at least the Wolves are seeing their rookies begin to blossom.
Edwards picked up where McDaniels left off late in the fourth quarter. He didn't settle for shots, as he has a tendency to do. It's something Finch has preached over the past month, to get Edwards going "downhill."
"I'm never tired talking about downhill Ant," Finch said. "Because it's the only Ant I really want to see."
And the last one Thibodeau and the Knicks wanted to see.