MILWAUKEE — Teams are going to deliver clunkers. They’re going to get stagnant offensively. They’re going to lose games they should win. Even the best squads do that at times throughout an 82-game season.
But then they respond.
That’s why Wednesday’s contest in Milwaukee was so intriguing. Minnesota delivered two disappointing performances in its two-game home set against New Orleans, including a loss Monday.
That wasn’t a rarity for this franchise. Minnesota has looked success in the face, turned the other way and instead embraced failure many times. And rarely had it responded.
That’s what made the aftermath of Monday’s loss feel different. From Anthony Edwards calling out himself and others to a Tuesday practice described as “testy” by Timberwolves coach Chris Finch as players got on one another, they were all the responses of a team that didn’t want to settle for a lack of success.
Minnesota expected it all to translate to the floor Wednesday.
And it did.
The Wolves went on the road and knocked off the defending champs 113-108.
It was Minnesota’s first win in Milwaukee since 2013, and it snapped the Wolves’ seven-game losing streak to the Bucks.
Minnesota’s big three of Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell combined for 79 points.
Russell got going early against Milwaukee’s drop-coverage pick-and-roll defense, which left him to feast on one open mid-range jumper after another. He finished with 29 points.
Milwaukee is playing without a center at the moment, which freed Towns from having to bang down low against another big. That left Towns cooler, calmer and more collected. It was the key to the big man delivering an efficient, dominant performance, where the all-star tallied 25 points on 9-for-13 shooting.
Anthony Edwards scored 25 points. It wasn’t the most efficient, with the second-year standout going 9 for 24 from the floor. But he closed for the Wolves down the stretch. Milwaukee cut the Wolves’ 20-point deficit to a 2-point game late. Edwards responded by attacking Khris Middleton off the bounce and scoring while being fouled.
On the next possession, Edwards hit two free throws to ice the game.
Milwaukee isn’t at full strength. The defending champs are currently without starters Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez. Still, it’s a big win for the Wolves, and a massive response to the first sign of adversity.