The Minnesota Timberwolves pushed the series to Game 7 by dominating the Denver Nuggets 115-70

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Anthony Edwards jumps to complete the basket

Anthony Edwards flashed seven fingers to the cheering crowd as he walked off for a fourth-quarter timeout during a blowout by the Minnesota Timberwolves. He had the determined look of a superstar player refusing to yield to the defending champions all night.

Edwards scored 27 points to pull the Timberwolves out of their mid-series slump and deliver a flawless 115-70 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday, forcing a Game 7 in this intense matchup.

Jaden McDaniels added 21 points and strong defense, while Mike Conley scored 13 points in his return from injury. Big men Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Naz Reid combined for 38 rebounds and worked hard to limit NBA MVP Nikola Jokic to a relatively quiet 22 points.

The Wolves posted the largest winning margin in a postseason game since 2015, when Chicago beat Milwaukee by 54 points in a first-round series clincher, according to Sportradar.

“Guys just believing in themselves,” Edwards said. “I think the last three games we were all down on ourselves.” The decisive game for a spot in the Western Conference finals is in Denver on Sunday night, just as Edwards promised the locker room staffer at Ball Arena after the Wolves lost in Game 5.

Nikola Jokic takes control of the ball

Jamal Murray struggled again, scoring 10 points on 4-for-18 shooting while dealing with a sore elbow for the Nuggets. Their bench was outscored 36-9, with seven of those points coming in the final five minutes.

The Wolves’ reserves led a 24-0 run in the fourth quarter, building a staggering 50-point lead, following a 20-0 surge led by the starters in the first quarter.

“We talked a lot today just about getting our edge back, our swagger, playing a little more free and easy,” coach Chris Finch said. “It just felt like we hadn’t had our best effort on both sides of the ball yet.”

No defending NBA champion had ever lost in the playoffs by more than 36 points until this loss by the Nuggets, who were outrebounded 62-43.

“That to me speaks volumes about the game and our approach,” Denver coach Mike Malone said. Aaron Gordon had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Nuggets, who finished just 7 for 36 from 3-point range and trailed by at least 17 points for the last 31 minutes of the game.

For the Wolves, offense from McDaniels is usually a bonus, but he can’t be as quiet as he was over the first five games with a total of 35 points. He was very active this time, going 3 of 5 from deep and mixing in some well-timed dunks to energize the crowd.

Rudy Gobert loses control of the ball

Edwards, whose 44-point performance was wasted in a Game 4 loss the last time he played at Target Center, had nine points in the 20-0 run and needed only nine shots from the floor to get 19 points in the first half. “Just shoot it every chance I get, because last game they took the ball out of my hands,” Edwards said.

In the third quarter, he turned a steal into a fast break and used two crossover dribbles to get Michael Porter Jr. in the air, blowing by him for a dunk. A few minutes later, he drove past Porter, drew a foul, and landed hard on his back.

The Wolves called a timeout to give Edwards time to recover, and when he returned to the court without missing any time, the crowd started chanting “MVP!”

The Wolves struggled on offense during Game 5 in Denver while Conley was out with right leg soreness. The 17-year veteran point guard clearly helped keep the half-court sets organized and sharp in his return.

“It was a no-brainer. I was going to try to find a way,” Conley said. “We’re just better when we’re a complete team.” The Wolves held the Nuggets to 14 points in the first quarter, tied for the second-lowest total in the league this postseason, behind Miami’s 12 points in a Game 3 loss to Boston in the first round.

Murray had a hard time being productive against McDaniels, Edwards, and the rest of the NBA-leading defense, which came to life after showing some significant weaknesses in the last three games.

Jamal Murray on the court in the first half of the game

Murray, who struggled with a 3-for-18 performance in Game 2, attempted various shots including leaners, fadeaways, and spot-up 3-pointers.

He even missed a finger roll from the baseline and then found himself in a tough matchup against Naz Reid in the post, resulting in a flip-in that gave the Wolves a 43-24 lead.

McDaniels tipped in a missed 3-pointer by Reid at the halftime buzzer, making it 59-40. This was quite different from Murray’s 55-foot shot at the end of the second quarter in Game 3, which capped off an 8-0 run over 20 crucial seconds in that game. “Speaking from experience,” Murray said, “Game 6 is always the hardest.”


By Christopher Kamila

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