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Edwards steals show as Twolves Down Durant’s Suns in NBA Playoff opener

Los Angeles, (APP – UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – Apr 21, 2024) Anthony Edwards scored 23 of his 33 points in the second half as the Minnesota Timberwolves defeated Kevin Durant and the Phoenix Suns 120-95 in their NBA playoffs opener on Saturday.

Edwards, who had averaged 14 points in the Timberwolves’ three regular-season losses to Phoenix, ultimately relieved the Suns and helped Minnesota take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference series.

It was one of four games scheduled for Saturday, with the Cleveland Cavaliers launching the league’s playoff action with a 97-83 win over the Orlando Magic.

Later, the New York Knicks hosted reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers at Madison Square Garden and LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers traveled to Denver to open their grudge series against the reigning champion Nuggets.

Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets defeated the Lakers in four games in the Western Conference finals last year en route to the franchise’s first NBA title, winning all three of their meetings this regular season.

In Minneapolis, the Timberwolves also faced a team that had their number in the regular season, but Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert, bolstered by a strong supporting cast, turned the tables.

Towns scored 19 points, Gobert added 14 points and 16 rebounds and the Timberwolves reserves – led by 18 points from Nickeil Alexander-Walker and 12 from Naz Reid – outscored the Suns bench 41-18.

Up 10 at halftime, the Timberwolves took full control in the third quarter when Edwards, playing in his third playoff appearance at 22, scored 18.

Durant finished with 31 points and seven rebounds. Devin Booker added 18 and Bradley Beal 15, but the Suns couldn’t find a way out of the Timberwolves’ suffocating defense, pressured by Gobert.

The Timberwolves defeated Phoenix 52-28 and had 20 second-chance points to the Suns’ six. They led with as many as 27 people, much to the delight of a raucous crowd at Target Center, where the T’wolves will host game two on Tuesday.

– Cavs get the first blow –

In Cleveland, Donovan Mitchell scored 30 points and Jarrett Allen added 16 points and 18 rebounds to lead the Cavaliers in a wire-to-wire win that Allen hoped would set the tone for their Eastern Conference series.

“We keep saying ‘throw the first punch,’” Allen said in an on-field postgame interview. “I think tonight was the perfect example.”

Evan Mobley also scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Darius Garland added 14 points with eight assists for the Cavs, who are still reeling from a first-round loss to the New York Knicks last season.

Mitchell, who missed Cleveland’s regular-season finale with a nagging knee injury, appeared unhindered in a dominant offensive performance.

Orlando’s Paolo Banchero scored 24 points but had nine of the Magic’s 12 turnovers.

Cleveland coughed up 18 turnovers and went cold in the third quarter as the Magic cut a 12-point halftime deficit to four points.

A pair of baskets from Mitchell sparked an 18-2 scoring run, pushing the Cavs’ lead to 20 early in the fourth quarter.

They will look to double their lead when they host game two on Monday.

Things got tricky in the second quarter, with Cleveland reserves Georges Niang and Isaac Okoro both drawing technical fouls — Niang for running into Markelle Fultz after Fultz fouled him on a drive to the basket.

“I loved it,” Allen said. “That’s what we’re all about.”