DALLAS — When Jaden McDaniels went out last week because of a high ankle sprain, the Timberwolves talked about the usual things when someone gets injured — how other players will have to assume some of the injured party's responsibilities.
In McDaniels' case, that includes the important but usually little-noticed task of guarding some of the top players on opposing teams.
Last week at practice, coach Chris Finch said Anthony Edwards was going to have the opportunity, and Edwards has embraced that challenge in guarding LeBron James at times when the Wolves played the Lakers and Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday against Milwaukee.
"He just wants to win those matchups," Finch said. "He takes them personally. That's where you really see his competitiveness come out. He does a good job, plays with good hands, keeps his hands back. He can get through screens well, on the ball in particular. He's physical and he can bother those guys."
According to NBA.com, Edwards has forced James to commit three turnovers in the two games they have shared the floor this season, forced Middleton into two, Holiday into one. Holiday was shooting 2-for-7 against Edwards, James 0-for-3 and Middleton 3-for-6.
Edwards said he hasn't been watching any extra film of who he might be guarding even with the extra load of defensive assignments.
"I know I'm a great defender so I don't watch no film of the guys. I just go out there and use my instincts," Edwards said.
Over their past two games, the Wolves were a great defensive team with Edwards on the floor. His defensive rating of 95.8 points allowed per 100 possessions was best on the team. With Edwards off the court, the number increased to 126.1.
"I think he can be one of the best two-way players in the league," Finch said. "Keep putting his mind to the defensive end, keep learning about defensive schemes off the ball, rotations. He's doing a better and better job of understanding these things."
Another honor for Towns
Center Karl-Anthony Towns earned his third Western Conference player of the week honors for last week, which included his franchise-record 60-point game against San Antonio. Towns followed that with 30 points against the Lakers and 25 against Milwaukee. He shot 60% over those three games.
It marked the seventh time in his career Towns earned player of the week honors.
- Former Wolves forward Jamal Crawford announced his formal retirement from the league. Crawford played 20 seasons in the NBA, which included one season with the Wolves in 2017-18 and helped the team reach its first playoff berth since 2004.
- Towns was in the lineup after entering his second consecutive game questionable because of a right forearm contusion. Naz Reid entered the night probable because of back spasms and was also in the lineup.