DETROIT - Toward the end of his media session Tuesday, Karl-Anthony Towns was again stumping for Anthony Edwards to be the rookie of the year. As Towns was talking, Edwards wandered over and made sure to point out to Towns his plus-minus for the night: plus-30.
"Plus 30? Popeyes on me then ... We'll get you some of them fries," Towns said to Edwards, who has professed his love for postgame chicken and fries multiple times.
There have been plenty of nights the Wolves have been in gloomy moods this season, but as the end nears, the recent good feelings continued with a 119-100 victory over Detroit in their final road game of the season.
Throughout the past few weeks, the Timberwolves were adamant that they weren't tanking, that trying to win as many games as possible to build momentum into the offseason trumped a few percentage points in retaining a top three pick.
The Wolves' two most recent games against Orlando and Detroit, two teams angling for lottery odds, were going to show just how serious they took those words and if they were going to play like they meant them. They did, and they came away with their second consecutive blowout win even at the expense of their lottery odds.
"I like our professional approach," coach Chris Finch said. "Didn't like the way we started the third quarter. I thought we lost focus at times in this game. … But overall, it was a good wire-to-wire win. Professional performance from us."
Over the past week, the Wolves have fallen out of the bottom three of league standings, which would have given them about a 40% chance of keeping their pick in the top three or sending it to Golden State to complete the D'Angelo Russell trade, to sixth worst at 21-47, pending the finish of the Magic-Bucks game later Tuesday.
That spot means there's about a 27.6% chance of the Wolves keeping the pick. But against a Detroit team that had eight players out on the injury report, including Mason Plumlee and Jerami Grant, losing would've been a lot harder than winning.
The reason the Wolves won so handily was the starting group, which included Edwards' plus-30. They closed the first half 18-2 to lead 62-40 at halftime. After Detroit opened on a 12-0 run to start the third quarter, the starters regrouped and had another 11-0 run. The Wolves cruised from there.
Towns had 28, eight rebounds and five assists. Detroit committed 28 turnovers leading to 34 points.
"We're getting to the end of the year where we're seeing a lot of our young guys really seeing the game slow down for them," Towns said.
One of those young guys, of course, is Edwards, who had 22 points.
"I can't even come up with the words to come up with how great of a teammate he is," Towns said. "He deserves the world, man. My job is to help him get it."