As the Wizards looked to put the finishing touches on a win over the Timberwolves on Wednesday night, Montrezl Harrell posted up against Anthony Edwards on the block and knew he had a mismatch.
With the Wizards up seven and time ticking down, Harrell put a slick spin move on Edwards, spun to his right (beating Edwards clean in the process) and threw down a two-handed slam to put the Wizards up comfortably, a lead that ended in a 115-107 win at Capital One Arena.
The Timberwolves called timeout and as Harrell jogged back to the bench, he gestured back towards the basket and let his confidence shine through as it had all season long.
“I told him, ‘That ain’t enough,’” Harrell said. “Nothing against Anthony, we’re actually in the same agency, I actually gave him a little bit of talk after that. But I take that as, I don’t know, a little bit of disrespect. I’m a bigger guy than that, they just want to let him play freely one-on-one down there. So I told him that’s not enough. You’ve gotta do a little better than that, man.”
Harrell, after one of his worst outings of the year against the Spurs on Monday, rebounded to score 27 points (a season-best) directly after his season-worst showing of six points. He went 11-of-12 from the floor against Minnesota and tallied five rebounds and made three assists.
And after seemingly each basket, he impacted the game with more than just his play.
“I told the first time I saw him walking into the practice facility in the preseason, ‘Man, I’m happy you’re on our side — I hated playing against you every single time,’” Davis Bertans said. “That’s what he does to other teams, that’s what he does to the crowd, that’s what he does to his teammates, he just brings the energy every single night. He’s basically an engine for this team. He can get us going in a bad game every single night.”
Bertans, who recalled a moment early in his career when he and Harrell almost fought during a game and both received technical fouls, is acutely aware of the presence Harrell provides on the floor. Because his energy is not only a spark for the team, but for everyone in the arena not wearing the visitor’s colors.
Harrell continues to receive ‘MVP’ chants during some of his free throw attempts and isn’t a stranger, when the moment calls, about standing at the bottom of the lower level where the seats meet the floor, letting the crowd cheer wildly before returning to the floor.
“He’s an emotional player,” coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “Those are big plays that he makes, and they’re momentum swings. You can feel the energy change. It's not only good for him, those plays impact our bench, those plays impact our overall energy.”
There’s been no secret about what Harrell would bring, and has brought, to the team in his Wizards tenure. He was the 2019-20 NBA Sixth Man of The Year recipient and a fan favorite during his time with the Clippers.
But through 22 games in Washington, Harrell has felt the emotion from the fans more than he ever has before. And the fans are certainly feeling the emotion and intensity Harrell brings to the floor each night.
“This is a whole complete deal, man,” Harrell said. “This is completely different from anything that I’ve ever been in, honestly. Because like I said, this is an organization that’s been through the ups and downs, the good and the bad, all their teams. The fans are behind us, the city is loving it and we’re just trying to make sure we continue to keep that wave going.”