Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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NBA Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves (38-16) at Portland Trail Blazers (15-38)

The Minnesota Timberwolves considered holding out star guard Anthony Edwards for the opener of a two-game set with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Edwards’ right knee was aching after a physical battle with the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night, and there was plenty of thought given to having him sit out Tuesday. And Edwards was on board with the plan.

But shortly before game time, Edwards had a change of heart and took the court, and he punished the host Trail Blazers to the tune of 41 points during Minnesota’s 121-109 victory. Edwards will look for another strong outing on Thursday night when the teams play again in Portland.

Edwards didn’t look hindered while making 16 of 27 field-goal attempts and falling three points shy of his season-high output.

Edwards is listed as questionable for Thursday’s game, which is the final game before the NBA All-Star break for both teams. Edwards will then depart for Indianapolis for festivities at the All-Star Game. It is the second straight season the 22-year-old Edwards has made the team.

Edwards is averaging career highs of 26.1 points and 5.2 assists while still at an age in which he will continue to get better.

Timberwolves coach Chris Finch — who will be coaching the West at the All-Star Game — wasn’t surprised Edwards ended up playing 34 minutes during his stellar effort on Tuesday.

Edwards received scoring help from reserve Nickeil Alexander-Walker while helping Minnesota improve to 3-1 on a five-game road trip.

Alexander-Walker was a season-best 5 of 6 from 3-point range while scoring 18 points off the bench for the Timberwolves.

Alexander-Walker is averaging 23.1 minutes and 7.1 points per game while carving out a role with Minnesota, the best team in the Western Conference.

The Trail Blazers will look to bounce back after dropping their fifth consecutive game.

Portland big man Deandre Ayton was superb on Tuesday by compiling 22 points on 11-of-12 shooting and collecting 16 rebounds.

Rookie point guard Scoot Henderson chipped in with 14 points and nine assists after missing two games with a foot injury.

The No. 3 overall pick in last June’s draft, Henderson has nine assists in back-to-back appearances and has scored at least 14 points in each of the past five games he has played.

Anfernee Simons scored 20 points on Tuesday after missing Portland’s previous game with an ankle injury.

Minnesota is 2-0 against Portland this season, including a 116-93 home win on Jan. 12. The Timberwolves have won eight of the past 11 meetings between the teams.

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