Jamaal Murray, Nuggets bounce back in Wolves Game 3 blowout

MINNEAPOLIS — Jamaal Murray rebounded with 24 points to lead the Denver Nuggets 117-90 in Game 3 on Friday night in the Western Conference semifinals, making the Minnesota Timberwolves the NBA’s last seed. .

Nikola Jokic, the three-time league MVP, had 24 points, 14 rebounds and 9 assists, Michael Porter Jr. had 21 points and the Nuggets cut the Timberwolves’ series lead to 2-1 on 14-of-29 shooting. Shooting from 3-point range.

Anthony Edwards scored a quiet 19 points to lead the Wolves, who went just 10-for-32 from deep on a 4-for-5 effort from Karl-Anthony Towns. They failed to get enough shots off Downs (14 points), fumbled the ball too often in desperate attempts to drive to the basket and played slower than they had in the first two games in Denver, falling behind by 34 points. to extend.

Game 4 is Sunday night in Minneapolis.

The Nuggets became the 30th team in NBA playoff history to lose the first two games of a best-of-seven series at home, according to Sporter Research. Five of them have rallied to win, most recently to the LA Clippers in the first round in 2021.

“You’re always testing human nature and what people are made of,” said Nuggets coach Mike Malone, who showed his team a mashup of nationally televised analysts. “If that doesn’t resonate with you as a competitor, I don’t know what does.”

It was the step Denver badly needed, breaking the 100-point barrier for the first time in three games against Minnesota’s NBA-best defense.

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Murray, who totaled 25 points on 9-for-32 shooting with a minus-38 rating in the first two games, was fined $100,000 by the NBA for punching a Heat bag on the floor off the bench. He touched the ball. The stone-faced point guard didn’t look at the crowd, using a combination of stoned-up jumpers and fadeaways to lead the offense. Last few weeks.

“His teammates released him, but he was aggressive and saw the ball go early,” Malone said. “I think he enjoys those moments where he can be the bad boy.”

Not only did the defending champions bring the energy they promised to return after any show at home, but they hit enough shots to keep the Wolves and their active rotation honest. The whistles were tight, and Wolves defensive end Jaden McDaniels was limited by foul trouble.

It was the most meaningful game staged at Target Center in 20 years since Minnesota beat Sacramento in Game 7 to reach the conference finals. game. “Wolves on four!” A chant erupted before the opening tip from some hopeful spectators in a stretch of head-turning Game 2 dominance in Denver.

The Nuggets controlled the noise by crawling out to a 28-20 edge after the first quarter, their largest lead of the series to date, and they didn’t stop there. 20 points late in the second quarter.

The Wolves got NBA defenseman Rudy Gobert back after he missed Game 2 for the birth of his son, but the Nuggets zipped the ball well outside the paint so his long arms were largely a non-factor.

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Aaron Gordon hit back-to-back 3-pointers, and Porter hit one on the next possession midway through the third quarter to make it 72-50 and cap another mini-Wolves rally.

At the start of the fourth, fans began to leave their seats. Wolves reserves Nikhil Alexander-Walker and Kyle Anderson, frustrated by a barrage of calls against them on the night, were slapped with technical fouls with 5:54 left on the clock for arguing with the officials.

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