Patrick Reusse
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The NBA media voting for the league's Rookie of the Year for the 2020-21 regular season showed its lack of interest in whether a productive player actually plays.

Anthony Edwards played 100% of the 74-game schedule for the Timberwolves and averaged 19.3 points and 3.8 assists. LaMelo Ball played 51 games (68.9% of the schedule) for Charlotte and averaged 15.7 points and 6.1 assists.

There were 99 votes and the partially available Ball received 84 for first place. Edwards received the other 15.

The starters for this month's All-Star Game were voted on by the public,. Those elected from the West were LeBron James (11 games missed), Steph Curry (15 missed), Luka Doncic (six missed), Nikola Jokic (seven missed) and Zion Williamson (24 missed and counting).

It's tough to argue with the first four, but voting Zion the Invisible as a starter should be enough to take the vote away from fans forevermore.

NBA coaches voted for the remaining seven All-Stars from each conference. Those from the West included Damian Lillard (12 missed) and Paul George (17 missed).

Edwards played his 55th of the 55 games Friday night. He has been doing so in a fashion bordering on the spectacular — 24.9 points, 6.1 assists and 4.6 assists, and those power drives when he finishes lefty that blow your mind.

"Ant'' also entered with the most minutes played in the league.

Thursday's vote against him completed a hat trick for Edwards: overlooked by the media as top rookie, an All-Star spot wasted on Williamson with the fans, and the coaches — of all people — ignoring his ironman excellence in selecting the subs from the West.

Timberwolves coach Chris Finch was asked about that voting result before Friday's game and his accolades for Edwards included: "He's played all 54 games, which I wish mattered more in the league than it does now."

Later, Finch was reminded of LaMelo's blowout prize win over Edwards two seasons earlier, and was asked: "Why doesn't it matter more at this time?''

Finch threw out two or three possibilities — the now-popular "load management'' among those — and then said, "The best players in the league do play.''

Edwards doesn't turn 22 until August. He played the whole schedule as a rookie, missed 10 games with a bad knee last season and is back to being an ironman in Year 3.

Edwards was calm about being overlooked as an All-Star after the Friday morning shootaround. And he did it in his unique style, saying, "I ain't think nothing about it.''

Later, he offered a punchline: "I ain't trippin'.''

As it turned out, there was a whole lot of trippin' going on several hours later, as the Wolves were being carved up by the young and gifted Orland Magic late in the third quarter.

Austin Rivers missed a three-pointer in front of the Magic bench with two minutes left. He faced ridicule from the visitors bench.

Next time down, with 1:32 remaining, Rivers went over to the bench, and then Mo Bamba came at him, and a predictable melee ensued.

Later, Rivers talked with the media and his main complaint was Jalen Suggs racing from behind and grabbing his neck. The red marks on his neck were clear.

Rivers and Bamba were tossed immediately, followed by Suggs, and Taurean Prince and Jaden McDaniels for the Wolves. As the refs started a long look at the replay, Bamba came screaming toward Rivers in the hallway that connects the two locker rooms.

Rivers said the 7-foot Bamba was being held up by about a "5-foot-8" security guard, and was as uninterested in a punch-out as was Rivers.

This can be confirmed: The profanities being shouted between Bamba and Rivers in the hallway would have embarrassed Richard Pryor at his foul-mouthed zenith.

Peace broke out and Orlando was leading 96-78 with 10 minutes left. Finch decided to insert Luka Garza into the lost cause. The 6-10 rookie from Iowa went psycho in the last five minutes — scoring 17 points.

That cut the final margin to 127-120, giving the last shouts to Suggs, Bamba and the Magic.

It was an uninspired night for Edwards, going 5-for-15 from the field (1-for-7 on threes) and finishing with only 19 points in 38 minutes.

Kyle Anderson was a big loss five minutes into the game when his troublesome back acted up. Throw in likely one-game suspensions for Prince and McDaniels and good luck to Finch finding forwards with Denver coming to town Sunday as the best team in the West.