There was a crowd. A real, loud, sellout crowd of 17,136 celebrating both Thanksgiving eve and the Timberwolves entering their game Wednesday at Target Center against Miami — and Jimmy Butler — on a four-game winning streak.
There was emotion. In a close game, late third quarter, double technicals on Butler and Anthony Edwards, the former grabbing the ball out of Edwards hands after a traveling call, Edwards responding with a push in the back, a standoff.
There was one of the most satisfying Wolves victory in recent memory, 113-101.
Matching Miami's physical play, beating the Heat up on the boards, finishing the game with stifling defense that held Miami to two points over the final five-plus minutes, winning a fifth straight since 2018, when Butler — booed most of the time he touched the ball Wednesday — was wearing a Wolves uniform.
"It was a great night,'' Wolves coach Chris Finch said. "The guys were amped up to play, for all the obvious reasons. Good team, personal battles, big crowd. The crowd was electric, phenomenal."
So was Edwards, who scored 33 points, had a career-high 14 rebounds and six assists. As was Malik Beasley, who scored 29, picking up the slack while Karl-Anthony Towns sat on the bench with foul trouble in the first half. And also D'Angelo Russell, who scored 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, which was owned, start to finish, by the Wolves.
Personal battles? Edwards wasn't here when Butler forced himself out of Minnesota. But he was there standing up to the Heat star late in the third. It should be noted that the Wolves outscored Miami 30-20 in the 12-plus minutes after their tete-a-tete.
"If we show up and do what we're supposed to do, teams have to worry about us,'' Russell said.
The Wolves (9-9) did this with Towns on the bench with three fouls for much of the first half. Starting point guard Patrick Beverley was lost to a groin injury in the first quarter and did not return. The Wolves trailed by as many as 12 in the first half, by eight at the half.
But then Towns returned, Beasley stayed hot, Edwards was everywhere.
And, others contributed: Jarred Vanderbilt had eight points, 15 rebounds and three assists and played wonderful defense on Butler.
Edwards? He took 27 shots, few of which seemed forced. Defense? Two of his three steals came in the fourth quarter as the Wolves were putting the game away.
The Wolves led by just three midway through the fourth quarter. But Russell made two free throws, then he hit a three. After another miss by Miami (12-7), Russell drove left for a score with 4:32 left that put the Wolves up 10.
And that was it. The Wolves — who outscored the Heat 59-39 in the second half — finished this one off.
Afterward Edwards posted this to his social media: "We da ones Jack.''
What does that mean? "What do you think it means?'' he said, smiling. "I'm talking about us as a team.''
Before the game Finch said he hoped his team would give the big crowd something to cheer for. They did. Afterward Edwards was asked if he thought the team had won over the fanbase having won five straight, all by double figures, for just the third time in franchise history.
"Not just yet,'' he said. "Not all the way. But the more we win, the more they will.''