Timberwolves lose Game 3 to Mavericks 116-107, face elimination Tuesday

Minnesota Timberwolves’ guard Anthony Edwards already has a season-long highlight reel, and he added to it in a big way in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals at Dallas Sunday night.

Edwards rose for a posterizing dunk over Daniel Gafford, the start of six straight points that got the Timberwolves tied with the Mavericks 77-77 in the third quarter. He said at morning shootaround Sunday he was going to be more aggressive after taking 16 shots in the Timberwolves’ Game 2 loss.

In practice leading up to the Western Conference Finals, Edwards won three NBA Fan-Favorite awards, one for the Dunk of the Year on John Collins of the Utah Jazz. The play also got Photo of the Year.

Edwards' dunk Sunday wasn't enough to lift the Timberwolves to a victory to get them back in the series. They lost to the Mavericks 116-107 as Dallas closed the game on a 13-3 run. Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic combined for 66 points, including 19 in the fourth quarter. Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns combined for 40, with Towns shooting 0-for-8 from the perimeter. He's now 3-for-22 from three-point range in this series.

The Timberwolves trailed the Mavericks 60-52 at the half and came back to take the lead twice in the fourth quarter before the Dallas pulled away. The Timberwolves shot 9-for-30 from three-point range, and were out-scored 31-17 at the free-throw line in a nine-point loss. In Game 2, they blew an 18-point second half lead in a one-point loss.

"The whole series we’ve struggled to close games. These three-minute games that we’re playing, we’re losing them," Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said after the loss. "When we had open looks, they were nowhere near going in. That’s been the story of the series,"

Dallas Mavericks forward Dereck Lively II had a tough second quarter against the Timberwolves, and maybe the scariest moment of the night.

Lively had to leave the game after taking a knee to the back of his head from Towns, who was going for a rebound as Lively was falling to the floor. Lively stayed on the court for several minutes holding the back of his head before walking off very wobbly and gingerly to the locker room with the help of Markief Morris. The TNT broadcast said Lively left the game with a neck sprain, and was ruled out for the game in the third quarter.

Just a few minutes before that, Lively took a knee to his groin as Towns was driving the lane to try and score.

Lively has been a key player for the Mavericks in the first two games of the series, providing energy, defense, rebounding and dunks off lobs.

The Timberwolves need a win Tuesday night in Game 4 to force a Game 5 in Minneapolis. If they lose, their season is over just short of making the NBA Finals.

"I just told them keep fighting. We fight and we’ve been fighting all series. We’re not going to stop fighting, well look at it, we’ll build it back up and be ready to go on Tuesday. See what happens from there," Finch said. "We’ve got to win Game 4 here, so that’s all that matters. Win Game 4, push the series back to Minneapolis and that’s all we can do."

"It ain’t over, it’s first to four. Nobody is feeling sorry for us, so I think we’re going to go out and compete and keep doing what we do. If anybody can win four straight in that scenario, I think it would be us," Naz Reid said.

"Just keep being who we are until it’s over. Try to get one and go from there," Rudy Gobert said.