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Edwards scores 37 as Timberwolves overcome 22-point first-half deficit to thump Clippers

The Clippers came out of the gates firing on all cylinders Tuesday in Los Angeles. They hit 8 of their first 11 shots from deep and generally found offense with ease through the game’s first 18 minutes.

Los Angeles led Minnesota 57-35 midway through the second frame.

Then Anthony Edwards came alive. The 22-year-old star guard started attacking the rim relentlessly. That led to points and a whole lot of confidence for himself and his teammates. Edwards’ aggression set a tone of physicality for Minnesota that the Clippers simply couldn’t match.

Once he started rolling, it no longer became a question of if Minnesota was going to snatch the lead, but when?

The answer was early in the third quarter. And the Wolves never looked back from there. They dominated the final 30 minutes of play en route to a 118-100 victory over the Clippers.

After falling behind by 22, Minnesota out-scored the Clippers 83-43 the rest of the way. The win marks the Wolves’ largest comeback since 2012.

Edwards finished with 37 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

“Just a bunch of mismatches,” Edwards said in his postgame, on-court television interview when asked what he saw on the floor. “Their best defender is Kawhi. Kawhi went down, and they was just putting two on me and trying stuff. And I hit one shot and got going.”

Indeed, not only is Kawhi Leonard a top 10 NBA player, but he is also the Clippers’ one defender capable of making Edwards’ life difficult. Leonard’s defense in the second half was largely responsible for Los Angeles’ win at Target Center 10 days prior.

Once Leonard left Tuesday’s game after the first frame with apparent back spasms, Edwards saw a flashing green light as his queue to attack without hesitation. Paul George, Terance Mann, Norman Powell, it really didn’t matter — none of them play with the physicality to go toe to toe with Minnesota’s all-star guard.

Edwards scored 14 points in the second quarter alone to help trim Minnesota’s halftime deficit to eight.

From that point on, the Clippers were planted firmly on their heels. The Wolves — who still have yet to lose three straight games after dropping the two contests leading into Tuesday’s bout — sank in their collective teeth defensively and played some of their best basketball in recent memory, as Los Angeles struggled to generate shots while Minnesota got whatever it wanted on offense.

Minnesota led by six at the end of the third. That lead ballooned to 14 just four minutes into the final frame.

Edwards’ help came from a pair of backcourt mates. Mike Conley hit five triples in his 23-point showing, while Nickeil Alexander-Walker finished with 28 points on 9 for 10 shooting.

Minnesota’s depth simply overmatched that of the Clippers.

The victory seals the season series for the Wolves, who are now three games clear of the Clippers in the standings with the tiebreaker, to boot.

That would seemingly all-but guarantee Minnesota a top three seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

The Wolves — who did lose Rudy Gobert in the fourth quarter to an apparent rib injury after the center suffered a hard fall — are currently just a half game back of Denver and Oklahoma City. Meanwhile, if Leonard misses time, the Clippers could potentially drop as far as into the play-in round.

That was the magnitude of Tuesday’s comeback on national television.

“We feel like this was a statement game,” Edwards said. “Regardless of who they lose, I think my team came out that second half and put on a show.”