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It's all Edwards, all shine as Wolves dismantle Suns in Game 1

With under a minute to play in the third quarter Saturday, Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards shifted around a screen and pulled the trigger on a three-pointer from the left wing.

Phoenix forward Kevin Durant was a step slow on the play, and Edwards had plenty of room to drain the shot, one of the final blows he dealt in a masterful third quarter that fueled a 120-95 Game 1 playoff victory over the Suns.

On their way down the floor, Edwards pounded his chest and had a few words for who he said was his favorite player when he was younger. Durant couldn't help but smile as well.

"I think everybody here knows that's my favorite player of all time," Edwards said. "So that was probably one of the best feelings ever in my whole life."

If the Wolves are going to win this series after going 0-3 against Phoenix in the regular season, they need Edwards to play better than he did against the Suns, who held him to just 14.3 points per game.

After a slow start, Edwards had it rolling in the third quarter, when he scored 18 of his game-high 33 points. He was 14-for-24 from the field and 4-for-8 from three-point range. He added nine rebounds, part of a healthy 52-28 edge the Wolves had on the glass, and six assists. He had six turnovers, but just two after the first quarter, and was a plus-19 for the game.

When asked what he's thinking when Edwards is having a spurt like he had Sunday, Wolves coach Chris Finch deadpanned, "Get him the ball."

"Sometimes like in the past he's had those runs lead to like a bad run, just trying to do too much," Finch said. "But you can see the great growth for him in that he played under control."

The same could be said for the Wolves as a whole, who kept their emotions in check during a physical game that allowed their defense to hold Phoenix in check outside of Durant (31 points). Karl-Anthony Towns helped the Wolves get out of a back-and-forth first half and had 19 points on just nine shot attempts (he was 8-for-8 at the foul line). So did Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who Edwards said was the MVP of the game, with 18 points and four steals.

Then Edwards kicked it into high gear. Target Center can reach decibel and excitement levels the likes of which it hasn't seen when Edwards plays how he did in that third quarter, when he was 8-for-11 from the floor.

"When you watch Ant, you're seeing some things that you've never seen before," said Naz Reid, who had 12 points. "It's kind of crazy. You get us on the bench going crazy. … It helps us motivate each other."

That wasn't in short supply for the Wolves after Phoenix gave them a shellacking during the regular season. Their defensive effort was on point from the start, as they made life difficult for Devin Booker (5-for-16, 18 points) and Grayson Allen (0-for-3), who left the game because of a sprained ankle (while the Wolves lost forward Kyle Anderson to a hip pointer in the second quarter.)

BOXSCORE: Wolves 120, Phoenix 95

Durant helped cut a 10-point Wolves halftime lead to four before Edwards announced his arrival to the series. It helped that the Wolves also held Phoenix without a field goal the last 7 minutes, 3 seconds of the third. Edwards' energy carried over to both ends of the floor. Point guard Mike Conley said Edwards showed a lot of emotional maturity after his early miscues.

"Maybe in the past he gets a little angry, gets a tech," Conley said. "Instead he moved on, went back to work, got himself going and got our team going with the way he was playing."

Saturday was a full-throated howl from the Wolves that this series could be a lot different from the way their regular season went against Phoenix. Their resuscitated defense was a big part of that, but getting Anthony Edwards to be Anthony Edwards again might have been the biggest development.

"It's going to be hard to beat these guys," Edwards said. "We've got to bring it every night. It's just one game. They're going to be ready to go the next time we play them."