MINNEAPOLIS -- — Anthony Edwards scored 30 points in his final audition for the NBA Rookie of the Year award, leading the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 136-121 victory over the postseason-bound Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night.
Luka Doncic had 18 points, six rebounds and six assists in 21 minutes for the Mavericks, who were unharmed by the meaningless defeat. They get the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, pitted against the No. 4 seed Los Angeles Clippers beginning next weekend in the first round. It's a rematch of an intense series last year in the Florida bubble.
“It was a lot of trash talking, a lot of hard plays, but it was fun,” said Doncic, who traded plenty of barbs with Clippers forward Marcus Morris. “That’s what basketball is about.”
The Clippers won in six games.
“Even without fans was incredible in the bubble, so we’re really looking forward to this year having some fans back,” said Kristaps Porzingis, who hurt his right knee in the first game of that series.
The Mavericks (42-30) broke their three-way tie with the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers by virtue of their Southwest Division title, allowing them to play without worry. They already had a top-six spot secured, avoiding the new play-in round that owner Mark Cuban said recently was an " enormous mistake."
This was only their fourth loss in their last 16 games, with Doncic, Porzingis and the rest of coach Rick Carlisle's crew bringing plenty of confidence they can do some damage in what ought to be a wide-open bracket on the Western Conference side. They'll get some extra rest, too.
“We’re going to have to have a sharp edge going into this. All those things will be a very important part of our preparation, and we’ll get tuned up as best we can,” Carlisle said.
Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell scored 23 points apiece for the Timberwolves, who brought a last-day-of-school vibe to the game as they laughed their way through warmups and enjoyed a sharp night of 3-point shooting at 42.5% (17 for 40). They set a franchise record for highest score (113 points) through three quarters.
By finishing 9-7, they matched the 2017-18 finish for the best 16-game run to close a regular season in club history. The Wolves finished with the sixth-worst record (23-49) in the league after spending much of the season at the bottom. Their first-round draft pick, owed to the Golden State Warriors for the Russell trade last year, is only top-three protected.
Jaden McDaniels had 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting, including a soaring dunk set up by a no-look pass from Russell early in the second quarter. McDaniels and Edwards formed quite the rookie tandem for Minnesota this season, giving the long-woebegone franchise a true lift and a couple of keepers to build around Towns and Russell.
“I think everyone’s ready for the break. I think that’s a very fair and real comment, an assessment of where we are,” coach Chris Finch said. “I also think guys are excited. They’ve got great hope.”
Timberwolves: Edwards notched his 36th game of 20-plus points, extending his franchise rookie record. ... Edwards was 5 for 9 from 3-point range. He made the fourth-most 3-pointers (171) by a rookie in NBA history, trailing Donovan Mitchell (187), Damian Lillard (185) and Saddiq Bey (175).
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