MINNEAPOLIS -- Anthony Edwards spent all offseason working on his shot. Catch and shoot, off the bounce, everything. But the work didn’t stop there.
In the days leading up to Minnesota’s season opener, Edwards texted his trainer, Justin Holland, informing him late-night gym sessions were in order.
There was more work to do and more shots to get up and a breakout party to prepare for. The party was Wednesday at Target Center. Thousands of Timberwolves fans were invited.
And it was a rager.
Edwards announced himself as the all-star candidate he hoped to be and the Timberwolves looked like the playoff contender they spoke about being all training camp as they ignited Target Center for 2½ hours Wednesday en route to a 124-106 blowout victory over Houston. Minnesota led by as many as 35.
Edwards’ extra work paid off. The second-year standout finished with 29 points — 24 in the first half — on six 3-pointers. Karl-Anthony Towns was clinical in a 30-point, 10-rebound showing on a hyper-efficient 11-for-15 shooting performance. D’Angelo Russell hit four threes in a span of 2 minutes, 8 seconds in the third quarter.
Target Center was alive for all of it.
What a revival for a building that sat in silence for so much of the 2020 season, and frankly many years prior. The energy and passion with which the Timberwolves played — from Edwards’ numerous thunderous dunks to Josh Okogie’s monstrous blocks — permeated the arena.
This is a fan base that’s begged for winning basketball for years but often has been denied. Not Wednesday.
In fairness, Wednesday’s opponent was Houston (0-1). The Rockets are expected to be one of the worst teams in the NBA. The same is true of the New Orleans team Minnesota will host Saturday and Monday.
But if the Wolves play with that type of fire and passion over 82 games, they will come out victorious far more times than not. There was a play in which Malik Beasley forced a loose ball and went down near the Timberwolves’ bench. A number of his teammates instantly rallied to him and cheered as they picked him up off the floor.
Edwards is the clear ignitor. It was his pregame introduction Wednesday that drew the loudest roars, his mini-runs that brought fans to their feet.
With each triple Edwards splashed, his signature grin would grow just a bit bigger as he’d gaze up at the crowd or the Wolves bench. When he buried his fifth three of the first half with 22 seconds to play in the second quarter to put Minnesota (1-0) up 29, Edwards looked over at Houston’s bench and hollered at Rockets head coach Stephen Silas to call a timeout.
Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said pregame that Edwards had been knocking shots down at a high frequency in practice during training camp. That hadn’t quite translated to preseason games, but Finch was confident that had a lot to do with exhibition season rotations.
It appears as though he was correct. It also appears that, just maybe, Timberwolves games will again be a party worth attending in the Twin Cities.