‘Can’t do nothing but be better’: Edwards responds well to benching from Finch

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LOS ANGELES – With 5 minutes, 54 seconds left in the first quarter, Jaylen Nowell entered the Timberwolves' 122-104 win over the Clippers on Monday for Anthony Edwards.

This was not a substitution coach Chris Finch was planning to make.

Instead, it was one he made to send a message to Edwards — start playing defense or you won't play at all.

"I wasn't a big fan of his approach defensively to start the game, which is why I went that direction early," Finch said. "He responded to that and was a lot more dialed in."

Edwards would sit for a little while and come back in during the second quarter, and when he did he seemed a different player. He shook off a bad game against the Lakers on Sunday with a 28-point performance Monday on 11 of 17 shooting.

Edwards said after the game he wasn't a huge fan of coming out of the game early, but he understood why Finch made the move he did.

"I get mad, for sure," Edwards said. "I be wanting to say something to him. But it's pointless. He right. Can't do nothing but be better when I get back in."

This is not the first time Finch has done this in a public way with Edwards. There was a time last season when Edwards sat out late in a close game because Finch wanted him to play better defense. This is also one of the qualities of Edwards that Finch and the Wolves like about Edwards — he accepts the coaching and responds to it without any issues.

"That's why I said he right," Edwards said. "I get mad, but he right. At the end of the day I can't do nothing but take the constructive criticism and come back and show him that I can do it."

Finch gave Edwards credit for responding "really well" to the move Monday.

"He's a competitor," Finch said. "[He] needs to know that we have a standard that we're trying to play to. I didn't think he played very well last night, so it was my job to make sure that he went out and played well tonight. I didn't like the start, so I had to shake it up a little bit."

Edwards' performance came after he went seven of 19 for 18 points in a loss to the Lakers. In that game, Finch said Edwards wasn't adjusting to how the Lakers were defending him with double teams. He forced the issues and forced a lot of shots.

"If they're committed to putting two on you, then you've got to get off of it," Finch said Sunday. "That means there's only three left to guard four and that's to our advantage. But if you're going to hold the ball and try to stretch the coverage with the dribble too much, that's to their advantage."

Edwards said this was the first time he had faced that many double teams, which came in part because Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell were out.

"I can't let the double affect my game or how I affect the game," Edwards said. "And I got to figure out how to beat that."

Luckily for him on Monday, he said the Clippers chose not to defend him the same way.

"I was just getting ready for a double team," Edwards said. "When they wasn't doubling, I was more than happy."

That allowed Edwards to attack the rim more, and he had a more efficient night shooting. He was five of 10 from three-point range but 6-for-7 when he shot inside the arc. Five of those made shots came in the restricted area.

"I just feel like I can't be guarded," Edwards said. "So I take it upon myself to want to get downhill every once in a while because they try to take it away the majority of the time. I just feel like I can't be guarded by anybody, so when I want to score, I can score."

So long as he doesn't see those double teams, and so long as he plays good enough defense to stay in the game.

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