4 Quarters of Brilliance From Anthony Edwards
This will not be a typical postgame write up. Don’t get me wrong, it was a special game for many reasons, but the end result gets chalked up as a loss along with many other games this season. We do not need to rehash the Wolves perimeter defense and rebounding issues that undoubtedly led to the loss. We also do not need to discuss KAT and DLo who had OK games offensively, or Ja Morant who was incredible in his own right. No, the story of tonight was the explosively mesmerizing 19 year old who dominated stretches of the game as only superstars can. This game was about the 4 Quarters of Brilliance authored by Anthony Edwards.
Anthony Edwards likes to ease in to games. Rarely does he have 1st quarter outbursts. He is a player that settles into the flow of the game before he takes over. That type of maturity and patience is rare for a teenager with his talent. Early Wolves offense typically runs through their post centerpiece, Karl-Anthony Towns, who tries to get everyone involved. Early in this game against the Memphis, it was clear the Grizzlies were intent on making life difficult for KAT, and offense would need to come from somewhere else. Sensing the moment, Ant went to work. His first bucket of the game came after he grabbed a rebound and pushed in transition, some nifty moves led him to the front of the rim where he rocked it home with a dunk. With that he was off and running. A 3pt. shot and sweet Euro-step through the lane for a floater followed and Ant was quickly up to 7 points in the first 7 minutes. He checked out for the quarter soon after, but his game was just getting started.
The 2nd frame begins with Ant on the bench, with him checking in at about the 9 minute mark. He will end up putting up a very similar stat line in the 2nd quarter as he did in the 1st, and that consistency is very encouraging to see. Edwards also ended this quarter with 3 assists showing some of the live dribble improvisational passing that we catch glimpses of every now and then. Ant continued his efficient scoring, beginning with a catch and shoot 3 on a pass from Jaden McDaniels (Wolves fans everywhere salivate at that combo). Then Ant forayed into the paint off of a screen for a rarely converted midrange jumper. He was left wide open as Jonas Valanciunas dropped all the way back to the rim for fear of letting Ant past him. An efficient midrange game has escaped Ant this season, so the ease and comfort with which he pulled up and drilled this jump shot was a welcome sight. Ant’s final, and most difficult, bucket of the half came on another classic Edwards bulldozing drive. He was somehow able to keep DeAnthony Melton on his hip before elevating and showing finesse to lay the ball in. Going into halftime, Edwards had 14 points on 6–8 shooting and it just felt like he had much more to give. If only we knew what was to come…
It happened — Ant went nuclear. 16 points on 6–8 shooting and 4–5 from the 3pt. line. He added 3 assists, a rebound, a steal, and a block in just over 9 minutes. Ant began by raining 3 straight 3’s on the Grizzlies heads to drag the Wolves back into the game. Make no mistake, Memphis was ready to blow the Wolves out and Edwards decided to to not let that happen. His 3’s continued to get deeper and more difficult. He was more bold with every attempt seemingly testing his limits. Once it was established that Ant was taking over, he had his crescendoing moment at about the 7:30 mark of the 3rd quarter. A Josh Okogie steal led to an assault on the rim by Ant as he threw down a dunk with the power that few can muster. As if that was not enough, he feigned running back on defense before turning right around and collecting Xavier Tillman’s inbounds pass. Edwards banked in the layup so quickly that the scoreboard operators took until the next timeout to award the Wolves 2 points. It was a frenetic sequence that had play by play announcer, Dave Benz, sounding like he was falling out of his chair. For good measure, Ant capped off his scoring outburst by nailing another 3 point shot even though he was heavily contested. That was at the 5:30 mark of the quarter. 16 points in 6:30 of game time. 30 points in 3 quarters overall. It was not just Ant hunting for his own shots either. The offense overall had 30 points in the first 6:30 of the quarter as well. This is where the comparisons of Anthony Edwards to known gunners like JR Smith and Dion Waiters completely break down (as if they weren’t asinine enough already). Those guys thrive when the offense is working well. Ant makes the offense thrive. Everything works when Ant gets going, and there is not much a defense can do to stop it.
But wait, he has already had an amazing game. There’s more?! 12 more points to be exact! He played the entire 4th quarter as it became clear the Wolves would need him on the court at all times to come away with a win. We know the end result of the game. The Wolves lost by 4, unable to secure enough defensive stops and rebounds to supplement their incredible offensive game. Anthony Edwards went right back to work, only this time he was in attack mode as the Grizzlies were not going to let him shoot from deep. 2 straight drives to begin the quarter led to a backpedaling Valanciunas who had no chance to stop Ant’s onslaught. These were 2 of the most encouraging plays of the game from the young Wolf. Drop coverage big men who plant themselves at the rim have been Ant’s kryptonite this season. Giants like Embiid, Zubac, and Valanciunas have forced ugly misses from Ant at the rim in the past. Not this game though. Ant attacked without hesitation. A little bit later he decided hit Brandon Clarke with a step back 3. Easy money for a guy who already had 6 made 3’s in the game. He was 37 points in, and Anthony Edwards looked like he might never miss again. A few minutes later he scooped up a loose ball and shimmy-shook through traffic for another layup. 39 points. It’s just hilarious at this point. Unfortunately for the Wolves, they could not make the plays down the stretch to win, but Ant had one last parting gift for the Grizzlies. Down 6 with 10 seconds left, he tossed in one more step back 3 that swished through the net. While it proved inconsequential in the end result, it was a shot across the bow for Memphis. Sort of a “see you next year” type of shot that let them know they will be dealing with him for years to come. After 42 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists the Wolves and their fans have further solidified what they have. An effervescent, scintillating, and truly dominant star named Anthony Edwards.