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Wolves stay alive with Game 4 road win over Mavericks

USA TODAY
                                Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards shoots over Dallas Mavericks center Daniel Gafford.
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USA TODAY

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards shoots over Dallas Mavericks center Daniel Gafford.

That one was about pride.

The next three are about history.

The Minnesota Timberwolves stayed alive in the Western Conference finals tonight, riding Anthony Edwards’ game-high 29 points and Karl-Anthony Towns’ recalibrated long-range shooting form to a 105-100 victory over the host Dallas Mavericks in Game 4.

With their first win in the best-of-seven series, the Timberwolves earned a Game 5 at home on Thursday night, hoping to blaze a trail to become the first team in NBA history to rally and advance after trailing 3-0 in a playoff series.

Winning the series wasn’t on the team’s radar in Game 4, Edwards insisted afterward.

“We just wanted to get one game and extend the series,” he said. “I’ve never been swept in my career. I didn’t want to get swept. Not on their home court, hearing their fans talk trash all day.”

Luka Doncic posted a 28-point, 15-rebound, 10-assist triple-double for the fifth-seeded Mavericks, who won the first two games of the series in a previous trip to Minneapolis.

After Minnesota led by as many as 12 early on, the teams battled on even terms for the first 18-plus minutes of the second half, with a Towns 3-pointer with 5:41 remaining giving the Timberwolves a 92-90 lead.

The visitors never trailed again, thanks in large part to Towns, whose 3-pointer on Minnesota’s next possession made it a five-point game.

Dallas’ best chance to draw even down the stretch came when Doncic misfired on a 3-pointer with the hosts trailing 95-92 with 3:18 to go.

When Towns connected again from beyond the arc with 2:54 to go, and Edwards followed with a bank shot in the lane 67 seconds later, the Timberwolves had broken things open at 100-92.

“That was on me,” shouldered Doncic. “(I) didn’t give enough energy.”

A desperation 3-pointer by Doncic as he was being fouled with 13.2 seconds left kept the Mavericks alive at 103-100, but Doncic missed the subsequent free throw.

After a timeout, Naz Reid got behind the Dallas defense for a game-clinching layup with 11.3 seconds remaining.

“We’d never lost three in a row until earlier in the playoffs. We’ve never lost four in a row,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. “The guys responded. Fun team to coach because they always believe they can win no matter what.”

The Timberwolves had been outscored 10-3, 6-0 and 14-3, respectively, at the end of the first three games en route to three-, one- and nine-point losses.

They are now 3-0 in potential elimination games this postseason.

Edwards’ personal series-high point total came as part of a near-triple-double. He also found time for a team-high-tying 10 rebounds and a team-best nine assists.

After missing 19 of his 22 3-point attempts in the first three games of the series, Towns buried 4 of 5 before fouling out with 25 points. He made nine of his 13 shots overall.

The big guy had gone 22-for-50 on threes in the first two series.

Rudy Gobert equaled Edwards’ 10 rebounds while also completing a double-double with 13 points for third-seeded Minnesota, while Mike Conley had 14 points and Jaden McDaniels chipped in 10.

Kyrie Irving was held to 16 points on 6-for-18 shooting from the field, while Jaden Hardy had 13 points, Daniel Gafford supplied 12 to complement eight rebounds and three blocks and P.J. Washington added 10 points.

Things were tied at 49-all at the break, with Edwards and Doncic each leading their respective teams with 17 points. Minnesota was up 78-73 heading into the fourth quarter.

“They won one game,” Doncic said. “We got to focus on the next one.”\

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