As Anthony Edwards lay on the court writhing in pain, he let out a blood-curdling scream.
“TIMEOUT!” he said after rolling his right ankle severely in the first quarter in Chicago. And with that, a Minnesota Timberwolves team that has ƒbeen holding on to the edge of the cliff by its collective fingernails all season long lost even more of its tenuous grip in the Western Conference playoff race.
They came to Chicago looking for a win that could have tied them for sixth in the West and with Karl-Anthony Towns making tangible steps toward a return from his calf injury. Edwards hit his first two 3-pointers and was cooking early against the Bulls when he brought the ball up, dribbled to his right and leaped into the air to make a perfect cross-court pass to Mike Conley for a 3 that gave them a 25-20 lead eight minutes into the first quarter.
That’s when Minnesota’s iron man, the player who takes so much pride in suiting up every night in defiance of the load management era, the one who has been so integral to keeping them afloat while Towns has been out, dropped to the court in all kinds of pain. He slapped the floor and grabbed his ankle, the nightmare scenario for the Wolves unfolding right in front of their eyes.
The Timberwolves and their fans have seen Edwards on the floor before. They’ve watched him take falls that seemed destined to keep him out for long stretches of time, as he did in Milwaukee on Dec. 31, only to then see him pull himself up and get back into the fight. And when the Timberwolves initially deemed him “questionable” to return, there was a brief hope that the injury was not as bad as it looked.
On Friday, Towns picked him up and put Edwards’ arm around his shoulder to help him to the locker room, a fitting image for a season that has never gone according to plan. Just after halftime, Edwards was ruled out, and he watched the rest of the 139-131 double-overtime loss to the Bulls from the bench in a walking boot. The Wolves fell to 35-36 and are in eighth place in the West.
“He hasn’t missed a game all year, so you know he’s not making s— up,” Rudy Gobert said to reporters in Chicago. “He’s really hurt. I don’t know how bad it is, but I hope we can get him back really soon.”
Now the mountain gets really steep. Wolves coach Chris Finch rightly saw a victory there to be had, so he went all in. Kyle Anderson played 51 minutes, Conley played 46 and Jaden McDaniels was at 45 with a game in Toronto set for Saturday night. It is not immediately clear how long Edwards will be out, but it is fair to say that he will at least miss some time, and time is something the Timberwolves don’t have right now.
“Those are always super painful,” Finch told reporters in Chicago after the game. “(His ankle) went completely over. I knew it was real and I knew it was going to be bad. My reaction was obviously I was concerned for Ant. But we gotta try to refocus and go.”
The Timberwolves have the 22nd-rated offense this year (113.0 points per 100 possessions) and will sorely miss Edwards’ scoring and playmaking. With him on the floor, the Wolves have a 115.2 offensive rating, per Cleaning the Glass….
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