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    Anthony Edwards won’t stop in his pursuit to get a superstar whistle

    Typically, NBA players or coaches will incur a fine for public criticism of officials after what they might feel is an egregious performance in a loss.

    But after the Timberwolves defeated the Thunder 107-101 on Monday, Wolves guard Anthony Edwards was telling anyone who would listen he thought the referees were less than stellar. It began in his on-court postgame interview with Bally Sports North’s Lea B. Olsen.

    “I’mma take the fine because the refs did not give us no calls tonight,” Edwards said. “We had to play through every bump, every grab. I don’t know. I don’t know how we won tonight.”

    That continued after the game, when Edwards continued his griping in an interview with ESPN.

    “The refs was bad tonight. Yeah, they was terrible,” Edwards told ESPN. “We was playing 8-on-5.”

    He then added: “The cat got their tongue tonight, so it’s all good. It’s not fair, but it’s all good.”

    Edwards was especially ticked because of what happened with just under two minutes to play, when he finished a dunk as Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander grabbed his arm without a whistle. This came after Gilgeous-Alexander marched to the free-throw line for 16 shots, more than the Wolves had as a team (15). Edwards had four. Edwards likely wasn’t thrilled when the league released its two-minute report Wednesday, when it said it considered Gilgeous-Alexander’s grab “marginal” contact, and the no call was a correct no call.

    By now, fans are accustomed to the complaining Edwards does in games, whether they like it or not. They hear all the times he yells “hey” and finishes a Wolves offensive possession with his arms open wide in a gesture that asks the referee, “Where’s the foul?” Getting to the line has been a larger part of Edwards’ game this season, as he and his player development coach, Chris Hines, detailed to the Star Tribune earlier this month.

    If there’s something at play here, it’s that Edwards likely feels he should be getting the same kind of whistle Gilgeous-Alexander is getting, and that others are getting ahead of him in the league averages.

    This isn’t to say Edwards is getting a bad whistle. Edwards is averaging 6.6 free throws per game. That was tied for 15th with New Orleans forward Zion Williamson and Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan entering Tuesday’s games. But it’s likely hard for him, at 22, to see Gilgeous-Alexander, 25, get the calls he has this season and not feel disrespected, especially when Gilgeous-Alexander doesn’t play with the kind of brute physical force Edwards does on offense.

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    This wasn’t the first time Edwards had thoughts on the whistle Gilgeous-Alexander got. After the team’s previous meeting on Jan. 20, Edwards had this to say when asked a question about shutting down the Thunder on defense.

    “It’s hard to with the calls that Shai gets,” Edwards said. “It’s hard to shut them down. You can’t touch him any time of the game. It’s super hard to beat. That team is a good team, especially when they’re getting calls like that.”

    Gilgeous-Alexander is on another plane from Edwards when it comes to the whistle he gets. He is averaging 9.2 attempts per game, trailing only Dallas’ Luka Doncic (who arrives at Target Center for a game Wednesday), Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo; and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid.

    Coincidentally, or maybe not, Edwards also had some thoughts earlier this season on how officials call the game for Embiid.

    “I don’t know how they lose a game when he plays like that and he always plays like that,” Edwards said after a Wolves loss in Philadelphia on Dec. 20. “Especially when the refs are calling it like that, there’s nothing you can do. You can’t put a finger on him. He’s up there, man.”

    Suffice it to say, Edwards isn’t likely to stop until he is “up there,” too, at least when it comes to getting the respect of the officials.

    He has changed his game to get more calls; he shows his arms more on drives in an attempt to make it easier for officials to see he is getting hacked, and he “submits” to contact more, as Hines put it, instead of trying to power through it. Maybe with time, and a few more All-Star appearances, Edwards will get that whistle he desires. Until then, he’ll keep wondering where it is.

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