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Edwards, Towns win big for Timberwolves in Game 1 win over Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Karl-Anthony Towns has shaken off his tough night against the Clippers and is back to his usual self.

Anthony Edwards has shown again that he can thrive when the lights are on at just 20.

Together, Edwards and Towns led Wolves to a stunning 130-117 win over Memphis in Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series.

Edwards had his jumper for most of the night and scored 36 in his playoff debut while Towns enjoyed better matchups against Memphis than against the Clippers with 29 points and 13 rebounds.

They helped recoup a 2-for-11 night from D’Angelo Russell, who finished with 10.

Ja Morant scored 32 for the Grizzlies, who rarely led on the night. Wolves did what any team hopes to do when they start a road playoff – take at least one game. Game 2 is Tuesday in Memphis.

The start of the game couldn’t have gone better for Wolves, who took a 9-2 lead and prompted Taylor Jenkins to call an early time out. Towns, showing no scars from his tough game, posted 12 points and five rebounds in the first quarter. More importantly for Wolves, he didn’t commit any fouls.

Edwards baked his sweater early and hit 5 for 7 to open the night. Because of this, Wolves were leading up to 13 at the start, 30-17. After a slow start for Memphis, Morant kicked them off.

He battled Wolves pick and roll coverage, which tended to give him problems throughout the season, splitting the defense and getting into the lane. He was effective with 15 points in the first quarter. That kept Memphis within striking distance 41-33 at the end of the first quarter.

The Wolves bench had one of their worst games of the season the last time they played in Memphis, and they picked up where they left off in the second quarter. He restored the entire lead in the first five minutes of the quarter. With the help of a 15-3 run, Memphis took a 51-49 lead. It was a particularly difficult change for Naz Reid, who picked up three fouls and committed three turnovers in four minutes in relief from Towns.

With 4 minutes and 44 seconds remaining, there was fan disruption for Wolves’ second game in a row as a woman chained herself to the basket near the Wolves bench. It was another protest on behalf of animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere, which is protesting egg farms owned by Wolves and Star Tribune owner Glen Taylor.

As was the case on Tuesday, the protest turned into energy in the arena and the shocked Wolves started running again. They scored five straight points to take a 59-51 lead. Their lead would narrow at the end of the quarter to 65-62 as Edwards and Morant had 19.

The Grizzlies changed their defensive coverage on Towns in the second as they began to double him with smaller players instead of trying to keep him straight with Steven Adams.

Wolves maintained a small lead for most of the third thanks to Towns and Edwards.

These two had to carry Wolves because they weren’t getting anything from D’Angelo Russell, who was 1 for 10 for three quarters.

Every time Memphis made a push, Edwards had a response with a backflip or a hoop workout. He was 31 from three and Towns had 24. Malik Beasley was the only other Wolves player in double figures at this stage of the match as Wolves led 97-92 in the fourth.

Wolves extended their lead to eight early in the quarter on a Beasley three. They would take it to nine with 5:23 left when Jaden McDaniels handed in a Towns airball. The lead reached 10 with 4:34 to go when Edwards drained three more.

The stab came on a streak that McDaniels started with a stoppage from Morant on the defensive end. Then on the attacking end, he spotted in the corner for an open three, burying it to put Wolves ahead 120-111 with 1:39 remaining. Fans started heading for the exits shortly after the ball fell through the net.

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