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Edwards takes over third quarter despite Suns' defense

It's over at Target Center, where Timberwolves young star Anthony Edwards turned Game 1 of a first-round playoff series with Phoenix into a third-quarter party ... and a 120-95 victory over a Suns team that had beaten them soundly in all three regular-season games.

He scored 18 of his 33 points in the third quarter alone and scored just about every way possible following Sunday's disappointing and worrisome home loss to the Suns.

The man they call Ant scored like this, all in the third quarter and often in the paint against a Phoenix defense that often send as many as three defenders — most notably Bradley Beal — after him, daring him to pass out of trouble:

Driving finger roll layup.

Step-back 14 foot jumper.

16-foot pullup bank shot.

12-foot turnaround jumper.

16-foot turnaround, fadeaway jumper.

17-foot step back jumper.

And he finished off the third with two three-pointers in the final 48 seconds, including a pullup three and a step-back three with 22 seconds left.

He also had nine rebounds and six assists and punctuated the victory late in the fourth quarter with a breakaway two-handed slam dunk after teammate Rudy Gobert poked the ball free from Suns superstar Kevin Durant.

That gave the Wolves a 111-91 lead with 3:37 left.

Edwards got help from Karl-Anthony Towns, who started slowly and didn't score a basket until midway through the second quarter but scored 19. Included was 8-for-8 from the free-throw line.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker added 18 points, four threes and all kinds of energy, too.

The Wolves trailed by five points early and led 61-51 by halftime before Edwards fueled that that third quarter in which they outscored the explosive Suns 31-21 and led 92-72 entering the fourth quarter.

They built leads as big as 25 points to take a 1-0 lead in a Western Conference series that now goes to a Game 2 on Tuesday night at Target Center.

Before the game, Wolves coach Chris Finch was asked about Edwards' maturity learning to play off the ball.

"He has made great strides there, done an outstanding job," Finch said. "This is an exaggerated example of the way he has seen it. He knows what he needs to do, not just for his teammates but for himself.

"The great fun part of coaching young players is watching them get better and better. This is the biggest test and I'm sure he'll meet it."