Timberwolves sweep Suns for first playoff series win in 20 years

Anthony Edwards celebrates
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards celebrates a foul against the Phoenix Suns during the first half of Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Sunday in Phoenix. The Timberwolves won 122-116, taking the series 4-0.
Ross D. Franklin | AP

Updated April 29, 6:35 a.m.

Minnesota star Anthony Edwards noticed early in the third quarter that the Phoenix Suns switched up their defense, playing him one-on-one most of the time instead of using the double teams from the first half.

The budding superstar took that as a challenge.

“It was like — you’ve got to beat us,” Edwards said. “And I showed them.”

Edwards scored 31 of his 40 points in the second half, Karl-Anthony Towns added 28 and the Timberwolves pulled away late to beat the Suns 122-116 on Sunday night and sweep the first-round playoff series.

The franchise’s first playoff series win in 20 years came after coach Chris Finch left the game late in the fourth after an inadvertent collision with Wolves guard Mike Conley. The team said he had a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee.

Edwards finished 13 of 23 from the field, including 7 of 13 from 3-point range. The 22-year-old threw down a powerful, one-handed jam to give Minnesota a 115-111 lead with 2:14 left.

“We’ve watched him grow, evolve as a leader, as a player, as a man,” Wolves center Rudy Gobert said. “It’s been fun.”

Phoenix would never recover.

The Wolves finished off the Suns despite Devin Booker’s 49 points on 13 of 21 shooting. He also made 20 of 21 free throws. Kevin Durant added 33, but the rest of the team struggled.

Assistant coach Micah Nori took over for Finch for the final 1:41 and the Wolves closed with relative ease.

“Everybody has their role, everybody has each other's back,” Nori said. “I know it sounds corny, but it’s just next man up, even with the coaching staff.”

Minnesota’s Jaden McDaniels scored 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting and the Wolves had a 44-33 rebounding advantage.

It was a tight fourth quarter and the Suns tied it at 107 on Royce O’Neale's 3-pointer with 4:30 remaining. Edwards and Jaden McDaniels hit back-to-back corner 3s to put the Wolves up 113-109 with 3:20 left.

The Wolves now wait to see if they will face the Denver Nuggets or Los Angeles Lakers in the second round.

“Their whole team created a lot of problems for us,” Suns coach Frank Vogel said. “The role players, the stars. Anthony Edwards is a special, special talent. And their bigs played really well.”

Timberwolves Suns Basketball
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (5) gets past the Phoenix Suns defense for a dunk during the second half of Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Sunday. The Timberwolves won 122-116, taking the series 4-0.
Ross D. Franklin | AP

Edwards hit back-to-back 3-pointers early in the third and McDaniels followed with a powerful dunk, helping Minnesota turn a six-point deficit into a 68-66 lead. It was part of a big third for Edwards, who hit four 3-pointers and had 15 points.

Booker responded, scoring 18 points during the quarter and the Suns took a 92-90 lead into the fourth. It was a tough game for three-time All-Star Bradley Beal, who scored just nine points on 4-of-13 shooting before fouling out.

“They were executing late and we didn’t,” Booker said.

The Suns threw various looks at the Wolves in the first half, using five perimeter players at various times to try to pull big men Gobert and Towns away from the basket.

Booker hit a fallaway jumper at the buzzer to give the Suns a 61-56 halftime lead. Durant led Phoenix with 20 points before the break, while Booker had 17. Towns had 15 for the Wolves.

Suns guard Grayson Allen missed his second straight game because of a sprained ankle suffered in Game 1 that he aggravated in Game 2. He averaged 13.5 points per game and led the NBA in 3-point percentage during the regular season.

Fans celebrate Timberwolves win against Suns

Back in Minnesota, nearly 150 Wolves fans stayed up late to watch the game at the Falling Knife Brewing Company taproom in northeast Minneapolis.

Fans celebrate Timberwolves win against Suns

The brewery is known for its devotion to the Timberwolves. Among the fans cheering and chanting “Let’s go Wolves!” was season-ticket holder Daniel Garten, who said he always watches the team’s road games at Falling Knife.

He was elated after the win.

“I can’t be any happier right now,” he said. “In a couple of weeks, with another series win — that would that would make everything sweeter. You just gotta keep going. Twelve more wins. Twelve more wins for a championship.”

Fan Punnarith Koy also was among the crowd. He celebrated the Wolves persevering even when he felt the referees' calls weren't going their way.

“It’s really nice to see that they were able to win in a grind-it-out type of game, on a night where the refs were definitely not on our side,” Koy said. “Despite all of that, it’s amazing to watch them rise to the occasion and close it out.”