Andre LopezESPN3 minute read
DENVER — It wasn’t the greatest of wins, but that doesn’t matter in the playoffs. All that matters is that the top-seeded Denver Nuggets picked up the win Tuesday night to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals.
After a lackluster performance in the first quarter that saw them trail by as much as 15 points – their biggest deficit of the series – the Nuggets slowly chipped away and were finally able to pull away in the second half for a 112-109 win over the Timberwolves. of Minnesota.
The win gave the Nuggets a 4-1 series win. They await the winner of the Phoenix Suns-LA Clippers game in the next round.
Nikola Jokic finished with 28 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists for his second triple-double of the series and eighth career playoff triple-double. Only Wilt Chamberlain (nine) has more by a center in NBA playoff history. Denver improved to 29-2 this season, including the playoffs, when Jokic has a triple-double.
Jokic became the fifth player in NBA history to go 25-15-10 in a game-breaking opportunity, joining LeBron James (2020), James Worthy (1988), Chamberlain (1967) and Oscar Robertson (1963), according to ESPN Stats and Information Research.
It wasn’t his best night from the floor, however, as he was 8 of 29 from the field but 3 of 8 from 3-point range and 9 of 10 from the line.
Jokic arrived when the Nuggets needed him the most. With the score tied 104-104 with less than a minute to go, Jokic missed a jumper in the lane, got his rebound, missed a layup, got his rebound then threw a hook to give the Nuggets a two-point advantage.
On the other end, Anthony Edwards missed a jumper and Jokic grabbed the rebound and pushed him down the field. After executing a play with Murray at the top of the key, Murray found a rolling Jokic on goal and he hit a contact bucket with 28.1 seconds left. The ensuing free throw gave the Nuggets a five-point lead.
The Timberwolves responded with a 3-pointer from Mike Conley and after two free throws from Bruce Brown, Minnesota scored again with an Edwards layup with 3.4 seconds remaining. Jokic put Denver by three after making one of two free throws with 2.5 to go.
Minnesota had a chance to tie, but Edwards’ deep 3-point attempt sounded off the back edge.
The Nuggets fell short of the sweep despite a furious late comeback forcing overtime in Minnesota on Sunday and the Timberwolves responded by throwing the first punch Tuesday at Denver, taking a 27-12 lead.
Denver finished the first quarter on a 10-2 run and the game remained close for most of the rest of the game. Neither team held more than a two-possession lead from 7:15 in the second quarter until the final buzzer.
Jamal Murray finished with 35 points, scoring his eighth 35-point playoff game. In Nuggets playoff history, only Jokic (nine) has more.
As the top seed, Denver has home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs, which is important as they are 37-7 at home this season, including the regular season and the playoffs, the league’s best winning percentage through Tuesday’s games.