Anthony Edwards started Friday's game for the Timberwolves, but he wasn't long for the evening.
After landing out of bounds during a play in the first quarter, Edwards checked out because of the right hip pointer that caused him to miss two of the previous three games, and the Wolves had to complete the night without him.
That wasn't much of a problem. Against the injury-riddled Grizzlies, the Wolves again used a strong third quarter to blow out Memphis 127-103 for their sixth consecutive win.
The Wolves (17-4) entered the night with a third-quarter net rating of 13.8, and they came out of halftime with a 38-24 performance for a 98-79 lead that allowed them to cruise through the fourth. Karl-Anthony Towns led a balanced night, scoring 24 points for the Wolves.
Troy Brown Jr. began the second half in place of Edwards, and Brown got the party started by hitting three threes early in the quarter. He finished the night with a season-high 20 points on 7-for-9 that was a part of 54 bench points.
"I just got to play my role, especially with the three-point shooting," Brown told Bally Sports North after the game. "Just trying to get spaced. I know in the second half, teams are going to cover us different. I get a lot of open shots, usually. I'm just ready for it."
Shake Milton, who has struggled all season finding his offense, scored a timely 17 points with Edwards out while Naz Reid had 10.
"Coach sat us down and we all had a talk and just talked about the offensive side of things, us moving the bal, and making sure we're finding everybody," Brown said of the bench. "We got a lot of different weapons on this team we can use."
The starters didn't have a bad night either. Rudy Gobert was again dominant on defense with six blocks and 20 rebounds while pitching in 16 points on the offensive end. Nickeil Alexander-Walker blanketed Grizzlies leading scorer Desmond Bane (16 points) while scoring 14 of his own. Mike Conley added 19 points and seven assists. Coach Chris Finch praised Gobert, Towns and Alexander-Walker for their consistency on the defensive end all night.
"Everyone was guarding, but those three guys were really locked into their assignments," Finch told reporters after the game.
Edwards' exit came with 8 minutes, 17 seconds remaining in the first quarter after he landed out of bounds on the baseline trying to avoid a ball hitting him out of bounds, and the Wolves had to adjust quickly. But that wasn't the play that caused Edwards to exit, Finch said. That had been building from the opening tip.
"Very first play, kind of took a hit, then came down on it at an odd angle when he landed and kind of flared up on him," Finch said. "Hopefully, we can get him back right."
Edwards had said after Wednesday's win over the Spurs that his hip was feeling better in the second half after he initially was "scared" to trust it in the first half.
The Wolves now enter a tough stretch of their schedule after Friday beginning Monday in New Orleans, but they were able to get by the last four 4-0 while Edwards was either out or playing through the injury. That's because Gobert has played at a level he hasn't been at before in his career.
He had his fingerprints on Friday's game from the start. He now has two or more blocks in nine consecutive games, tying a Wolves record held by Kevin Garnett and Eddie Griffin. He also became the third Wolves player to have 20 or more rebounds in consecutive games, joining Garnett and Kevin Love, the team said.
With Gobert wreaking havoc on the defensive end, the Wolves turned up the heat in the third. The Wolves held the Grizzlies (6-15) to 9-for-25 from the field, and as the shots started to fall, the Wolves broke open the game with a 13-2 run that gave them an 82-66 lead nearly halfway through the quarter. The Grizzlies never got closer than 14 the rest of the night.
The Star Tribune did not send the writer of this article to the game. This was written using a broadcast, interviews and other material.