25/06/2024

Nuggets even series against Timberwolves with second road win - ESPN

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Nuggets even series against Timberwolves with second road win - ESPN

The Nuggets evened their series versus the Wolves behind a dominant performance from reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and dazzling shot-making from Jamal Murray.

The Nuggets evened their series versus the Wolves behind a dominant performance from reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and dazzling shot-making from Jamal Murray.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Nikola Jokic scored 16 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, and Aaron Gordon had 27 points on 11-for-12 shooting to propel the Denver Nuggets to a series-tying 115-107 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals.

Jamal Murray had 12 of his 19 points in the third quarter for the Nuggets in a momentum carryover from his buzzer-beating swish from behind the half-court line in the second quarter, and the Wolves only cut the deficit below double digits in the second half for brief stretches.

Anthony Edwards scored 44 points in another spectacular performance for Minnesota, shooting 16-for-25 from the floor. But despite a 42-31 rebounding edge, the Wolves were beaten at their own game for the second straight time at home by the defending NBA champions, who were fired up after dropping the first two games of the series on their home court.

"Game 2 definitely woke us up," Murray said. "We realized we can't hold ourselves back."

The series goes back to Denver for Game 5 on Tuesday night.

Mike Conley had 15 points, Karl-Anthony Towns went just 5-for-18 from the field for 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Rudy Gobert came alive late to score 11 points and grab 14 rebounds. Still, the Wolves were on their heels at home for a second straight outing.

Gordon didn't miss until there was 3:39 to go. The Nuggets scored eight points in 20 seconds to close the first half, highlighted by Murray's improbable heave.

"The shot-making, the play-making, the physicality, the defense on two All-Stars, so much is being asked of him right now," coach Mike Malone said. "What you love about Aaron Gordon since Day 1, when he put on that Nuggets uniform, It's always been about the Nuggets first. He is truly selfless."

The three off days between Games 2 and 3 did the Wolves no good, yielding a 27-point defeat after which coach Chris Finch declared them feeling "fat and lazy" after all the fawning near and far for their performance in Denver. The Wolves needed to reintroduce their edge right away in Game 4 to keep the crowd consistently roaring, and Edwards dutifully led that response.

The 2020 No. 1 draft pick scored nine points in the first four-plus minutes Sunday evening before Murray even touched the ball, with Gordon and Jokic sharing the point guard duties to reduce the burden on Murray and his strained left calf muscle.

After a quiet Game 3, Edwards was on a mission to will Minnesota to win, as the Nuggets fully expected. Their loading up on him in the lane wasn't enough, as he hit from everywhere on the court.

But the rest of the Wolves frequently failed to make Denver pay for leaving them open. They missed tip-ins at the rim, not just corner 3s. Towns missed his first seven shots, and while his effort and defense never suffered, he was a mess trying to get the ball to the basket, rarely drawing the fouls he argued for.

The Wolves showed off their league-best defense and their enviable depth in the first two games, but the Nuggets copied and pasted that formula on the road. When the Nuggets' secondary scorers and bench players are hitting their jumpers, they're awfully tough to beat.

Gordon, Justin Holiday (10 points), Christian Braun (11 points) and Reggie Jackson (six points) went a combined 8-for-11 from 3-point range. They fueled a 26-4 run that bridged the first and second quarters, and all but five points on that surge came with the four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Gobert resting on the bench.

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