Anthony Edwards had that look. The one he displayed so often last season, a look of determination from a competitor about to unleash like a tsunami.
The Timberwolves desperately need this version of Edwards — the fire-breathing, swashbuckling, take-your-lunch-money alpha — now more than ever, with Karl-Anthony Towns unavailable for a month or so.
Edwards stepped into that void and emerged with what coach Chris Finch called one of his most complete games as a professional in a hot-tempered 109-101 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Edwards scored 17 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter. He played with force and patience on offense and contributed five assists as a facilitator.
His impact on defensive was equally impressive and forceful.
He had five steals and blocked three shots. His disruptive on-ball pressure contributed to the Grizzlies committing 24 turnovers.
"He plays with great energy, and it pulsates through the rest of our guys," Finch said. "He makes big plays. He makes plays that swing a game. He's always had a great sense of timing."
The timing has never been more important than it is right now.
December sets up as a critical month for the Wolves as Towns recovers from a calf injury that is expected to sideline him several weeks to a month (or possibly longer).
The first quarter of the season has been a disjointed, disappointing slog. The Wolves have struggled to establish an identity and figure out how new pieces fit together.
If they are going to stay afloat during this Towns-less period, Edwards will need to provide more nights like this one: a well-rounded performance that elevates his game to another level.
NBA observers predicted an ascension from Edwards similar to the quantum leap that Ja Morant made last year in his third season. Morant went from uber-talented youngster to superstar.
This situation, without Towns, presents Edwards with an opportunity to expand his game in his third season.
A popular conversation since Edwards burst onto the scene as a rookie has been whether he should play the role of Batman, with Towns serving as Robin.
Edwards' personality and freakish athleticism give him the tools to be The Guy. Finch has noticed Edwards becoming more comfortable and assertive in taking on a leadership role in recent weeks.
Finch said he doesn't expect Edwards to feel pressure to do more in Towns' absence but instead wants him to "keep adding to his game in different ways."
Edwards took that message and applied it on the court.
He dug in his heels on defense and put his own offense on the back burner by setting up teammates for shots throughout the first three quarters.
When he checked back into the game early in the fourth quarter, Edwards had different intentions. He had taken only 10 shots and scored 12 points at that point.
With the score tied 80-80, Edwards shifted into attack mode.
He euro-stepped through traffic for a layup. He swished a pull-up three-pointer. He blocked a shot, then sprinted down court to throw down a dunk that gave the Wolves a 90-85 lead.
Target Center came alive and roared.
He kept throwing haymakers at the Grizzlies. He made a three-pointer, then a driving layup, then another contested layup in traffic.
He didn't lose focus during a tense exchange with Memphis' Dillon Brooks. Edwards shared some heated words, but he had complete control of the moment at that point.
Fans chanted "M-V-P, M-V-P" as he went to the foul line with 1 minute, 22 seconds left. He made three free throws to put the game on ice.
Edwards let out a primal scream as the final seconds ticked off, a scream we saw and heard often last season. Edwards and his teammates finally looked that fun, spirited team again.
Edwards was the most impactful player on the court, on both ends. He embraced the role of closer. He played like a superstar.
This is precisely what the Wolves need from him with Towns sidelined … and when Towns returns.