NEW YORK – The Timberwolves had a lot of reasons why they lost to Brooklyn 110-105 on Friday night. They were without Karl-Anthony Towns, who sat out after injuring his tailbone on a fall Wednesday, and their offense stalled for just one field goal in the final five minutes of a close game.
It was hard to guard Kevin Durant, who scored 30 points, especially with the Wolves missing not just Towns but also prime defenders Patrick Beverley and Jaden McDaniels.
But as Anthony Edwards stared down with a sheepish smile at a box score after the game, there was only one reason for the loss coursing through his mind — himself and his career-worst eight turnovers.
"I didn't come out and give a winning effort tonight, at all," Edwards said. "If they don't want to put it on me, put it on me. Everybody put it on me. It's on me. And I'm going to say it with a smile. Put it on me. I got to be better and I'm going to be better."
Edwards started playing back the turnovers in his mind — a pass out of bounds here and there, a travel, a backcourt violation in the first quarter — so many careless turnovers that could have turned into points had he just been more mindful.
"My trainer just texted me and was like 'Game on Monday. Don't worry about this game. It's game over.' " Edwards said. "I can't forget about it, but I'm trying to forget about it, for sure."
It was almost a night to remember for the Wolves, who never trailed by more than seven against the title-contending Nets and fought through Durant and James Harden (20 points) going a combined 24-for-28 from the free-throw line.
The Wolves had a 101-99 lead with 5 minutes, 26 seconds remaining but scored only four points the rest of the way, despite having multiple tries to tie or re-take the lead. Finally, Durant hit a jumper with 11.3 seconds remaining to put the Nets up five and seal the Wolves' fate.
In some ways, that was decided earlier when the Wolves committed 10 turnovers in a first quarter that they also took an 11-point lead. Turn some of those into baskets and the game might come out different as Brooklyn inevitably woke up. Edwards wasn't the only one who was negligent early.
"We had a lot of bonehead turnovers that we could've at least got a shot at the rim," said center Naz Reid, who had 19 points starting for Towns. "I feel like those definitely hurt us."
Edwards arrived to the game in the second quarter when he had a brief spurt of seven points in less than a minute, including one of his patented thunderous dunks.
The Wolves needed more than a minute of that.
"He just wasn't fully present in the game," coach Chris Finch said. "A lot of those turnovers were just loose and kind of sloppy. Highly controllable. It seemed like a balance of indecision at times and also out of control."
The Wolves had a lot they could be happy with otherwise. They went toe-to-toe with a contending team on the road without three players who play heavy minutes for them. There was a mixture of pride in making it a game and disappointment in not getting it done.
"A loss is a loss. There's no moral victories here," Finch said. "We're disappointed in that. But fighting is what we do, so I'm proud of that."
Edwards was proud of his team too.
"Everybody came in and gave great minutes, did everything that we could do," Edwards said.
He just wished he had played as well as they did.
"I just played bad," Edwards said. "Ready to forget about it. Next game."