Surprise: Wolves reverse the usual with huge third quarter to beat Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS – The Timberwolves are one of the worst third-quarter teams in basketball, and they were coming off a loss Monday to Houston, the worst team in the NBA.

So naturally on Wednesday, they beat a team above them in the standings on the road thanks to perhaps their best third quarter this season in a 111-102 victory over the Pelicans.

The Wolves, who have a net rating of minus-7.2 in third quarters this season, came out and erased a 52-46 halftime deficit thanks in part to a 15-0 run that spanned 4 minutes, 54 seconds.

"I like the 0," said center Rudy Gobert, who had 17 points and 12 rebounds. "It starts with that, as far as getting stops and I like the way we were able to score off our defense. A lot of times, earlier this season, we weren't able to capitalize on those stops."

At the end of that spurt, the Wolves led 75-61. They were able to hang on in the fourth quarter thanks to key buckets from Jaden McDaniels in the final minutes.

What was different about this halftime? Was there any different approach to the third quarter this time around? It didn't seem like it. The Wolves just played better in that window, for a change.

"I don't know what it is," forward Kyle Anderson said. "We were able to come out with some energy."

The main driver offensively was Anthony Edwards, who

finished with 37 points, the third consecutive game he has scored above 30. Edwards was precise and dangerous in transition all night, and he scored 14 in the third, including three threes.

Edwards was quick to credit Anderson for fueling the third-quarter run defensively after Anderson shook his subpar play of late, which included four first-half turnovers. He finished with 10 points, seven assists and no second-half turnovers.

"I felt like I've been letting the team down, just not playing well," Anderson said. "I think it's pretty apparent when I play well, Jaden plays well, we win games. I had a tough first half, tough last two games, so I had to figure out a way to get it going."

The Wolves also got McDaniels going again, and McDaniels provided two crucial buckets that helped the Wolves stave off a run from the Pelicans in a fired-up arena after officials ejected an irate coach Willie Green for arguing with 5:54 left. C.J. McCollum led the Pelicans, who were without Zion Williamson (hamstring), with 25.

BOXSCORE: Wolves 111, New Orleans 102

With the Wolves up 102-96, McDaniels connected on an 18-footer with 2:28 to play to put the Wolves up eight. After Brandon Ingram (13 points in his first game since Nov. 28) hit a tough fadeaway and hit two free throws on a McDaniels foul, McDaniels responded with a catch-and-shoot three to put the Wolves up 107-100 with 1:24 left.

These buckets come a little over a week after McDaniels missed a potential game-winner against Utah at the buzzer.

"It was super nice," Edwards said. "Because he'll get in his own head and stop shooting. We're like, 'Man, keep shooting the ball. We don't care how many you miss. Keep shooting.' Today was great for him mentally and it's going to carry over."

McDaniels said he appreciated his teammates pumping him up, and said D'Angelo played a role in McDaniels converting the mid-range jumper.

"They be hyping me up," McDaniels said. "D-Lo is the one that told me to go after I was going to pull it out. They got confidence in me."

How much confidence do they have in McDaniels? A lot, apparently.

"We have 200,000 percent confidence in Jaden knocking down catch and shoot threes," Gobert said.

To say the least, the Wolves were feeling pretty good after Wednesday's win.

"This is one of our best," McDaniels said.