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Timberwolves' Kyle Anderson lives up to nickname: Slo-Mo

One of the more effective players through four games of the NBA's Western Conference finals is widely celebrated for his sloth-like pace of play, which is like awarding a blue ribbon at a gourmet baking contest to someone who enters spinach dip.

Unorthodox yes, but who among us doesn't love a good spinach dip?

The beauty of Kyle Anderson's style as a basketball player is not only in how methodically he navigates the court relative to everyone else but also that he feels no urge to alter his approach to conform. Driving a car in the right-hand lane serves the same purpose as lead-footing on the left.

Slo-Mo provided another reminder under the highest pressure that a cerebral understanding of the game can be just as beneficial as being able to leap tall buildings.

The Timberwolves remain alive to host Game 5 against the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday in large part because of Anderson's cool customer orchestration in Game 4, especially in the decisive fourth quarter.

The box score says that Anderson finished with only two points. The box score doesn't have eyeballs, and anyone who watched Anderson direct his team like a traffic cop during rush hour understands that the Wolves season is probably over right now if not for Slo-Mo's contribution.

"He's just so smart," coach Chris Finch said.

"Kyle's special," Karl-Anthony Towns said.

"He's everything we need," Anthony Edwards said.

Anderson is one of the most unique players in the NBA because his style runs counter to a core tenet of athletics: speed kills.

The sports world is obsessed with speed. Teams covet it, athletes train for it, fans marvel at it. The thrill of speed is why Usain Bolt gains glory and shot putters can walk through Times Square unnoticed.

One of the best compliments bestowed upon an athlete is to say that she or he "plays fast." Anderson has carved out a decade in the NBA by doing the opposite. He plays at his own speed, a crafty, methodical player surrounded by cheetahs.

Anderson operates by understanding angles and body control. At 6-9, he can play any position asked of him, though his ideal position might be described as quarterback because of he puts teammates in position to make plays, even when he doesn't have the ball in his hands.

His shooting form should be labeled "Don't Try This at Home." Fluid it's not, but Anderson owns a 10-year NBA career because he has figured out his own way to be successful.

Intelligence is at the top of that list, the application of it sometimes so subtle that it gets overlooked. Towns made three three-pointers in the final 5½ minutes in Game 4 that propelled the Wolves to victory. He got open on the first two thanks to hard screens by Anderson.

The second one was a master class in basketball IQ. As Edwards dribbled on the right wing, Anderson stood on the opposite side of the floor, waving his hand to get Towns' attention nearby so he could direct him to the corner.

As Edwards weaved toward the basket, Anderson raised his arm to motion Edwards to throw a pass to Towns standing behind him in the corner. Anderson then walled off Kyrie Irving with a screen, allowing Towns to shoot a clean-look corner three.

Nothing about that sequence showed up in the box score under Anderson's name. But that was a selfless, winning play that highlighted Anderson's value as a coach on the floor.

"He finds the right spaces, he gets the ball to the right people — handling, screening, he's play-calling," Finch said. "I mean, it's something."

Some matchups are better for Anderson than others. He averaged only 13 minutes per game in the Denver series and barely touched the court in Game 7.

This series has been different. Luka Doncic is one of the toughest players in the NBA to defend, but Anderson's size and length have created more disruption for the Mavs superstar than any other Wolves' option.

Anderson also has scored in double figures two games by using his craftiness to get into the lane, while also contributing 14 assists and only two turnovers.

"You've got to show toughness in this part of the season," he said.

Slo-Mo shows toughness by not allowing himself to get sped up. He plays the game at his own pace, on his own terms, and there is beauty in watching a performer succeed at the highest level using unconventional means.