Timberwolves and Nuggets meet at Target Center

The Timberwolves and Nuggets played Game 3 of their NBA Western Conference Semifinals series this evening at Target Center. Editor Chris Hine has been posting updates to the game.

Live playback

11:15 p.m.: No doubt since Denver wins easily, 117-90

Ever since the Timberwolves beat the Nuggets in Game 2, Twin Cities fans had visions of a deep playoff run. Maybe the Wolves have got a little head start too.

The defending champions responded with a statement of their own Friday night in a 117-90 victory over the Wolves at Target Center, knocking off the Wolves for the first time in the entire playoffs and humiliating a team that was perhaps too high.

The Wolves lead the series 2-1 with Game 4 on Sunday at Target Center.

Denver was in control for most of the night and asserted itself on both ends of the floor like the Wolves did in Game 2.

Jamal Murray, who the home crowd booed most of the night, had 24 points after avoiding a suspension for throwing a heating pad on the floor in Game 2. Murray only receiving a $100,000 fine for his actions could play a big role in this series if Denver comes back to win.

While Murray controlled the first half with 18 points, Nikola Jokic made sure the Wolves had no room for a comeback. He had 24 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists.

The Nuggets lost their composure in Game 2. Now it was the Wolves’ turn to lose a game, as Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who was playing with an apparent left shoulder injury, was ruled a technical following a non-call on a hard screen. it caused him to suffer on the floor during a fourth-quarter timeout with 5 minutes, 54 seconds left. When he got up, he heated up at referee Tony Brothers. Kyle Anderson also noted a technical issue in the process.

This outburst was unlike Alexander-Walker, who normally keeps his cool with officials.

Anthony Edwards finished with 19 for the Wolves while Karl-Anthony Towns had 14 on just seven shot attempts. The Wolves finished with 16 turnovers.

Their offense relied too much on outside shooting early in the night, and the shots weren’t falling — they were 10 of 33 from deep.

10:37 p.m.: The Nuggets in control, lead by 27 after three quarters

The Wolves had no answers for the Nuggets coming out of halftime and trailed Denver 93-66 after three quarters.

Aaron Gordon got Denver going early in the quarter by hitting three threes, which posed a problem for the Wolves. Their defensive strategy on Nikola Jokic is to play Rudy Gobert against Gordon, who they are counting on to either miss open threes or not take them. When he shoots and hits, that’s a sign that it’s Denver night.

Denver continued to do the same throughout the quarter. Jokic started scoring and had 13 points in the third quarter and was up to 20 on the night. The Wolves continued to look out of sync on the offensive end even as Anthony Edwards tried to get them going in the third. He was up to 19 points, but the Wolves’ defense seemed helpless against the Nuggets, who made the Wolves look a little slower.

Jamal Murray also has 20 for Denver.

9:47 p.m.: Denver leads 56-41 at halftime

Jamal Murray shakes off frequent boos from the home crowd and propels Denver to a 56-41 halftime lead.

Murray, fined $100,000 for throwing a heating pad on the floor in Game 2, looked more like himself with 18 points in the first half on 8-of-13 shooting.

He continued his strong play early in the quarter and led a 17-5 Denver run to open the second and give the Nuggets a 45-25 lead as the Wolves struggled to score. They also, for the first time in the series, were a little sluggish on the defensive end of the field.

The Nuggets outscored the Wolves in bench production 13-8 as Nikoa Jokic remained quiet in the scoring department throughout the first half. He only had seven points but added six assists.

Wolves forward Jaden McDaniels continued his foul trouble by picking up No. 3 just 2 minutes, 11 seconds into the second.

Looking for a spark on offense, Wolves coach Chris Finch turned to point guard Jordan McLaughlin for his first meaningful minutes of the series late in the quarter. But McLaughlin missed two wide-open three-pointers.

The Wolves finished the first half at 40% shooting while Denver was at 54%, even with Jokic going 3 for 8. Naz Reid is 1 for 5 while Mike Conley is 2 for 8 for Minnesota .

Karl-Anthony Towns led the Wolves with 12 points on four threes. There was no shortage of towns from the outside. Anthony Edwards has nine points on 4-of-8 shooting.

9:12 p.m.: The Nuggets defense put clamps on the Wolves from the start

One way for Denver to get back in this series is for the officials to start calling more fouls than in the first few games and putting some key Wolves in trouble. Jaden McDaniels committed two fouls in less than six minutes of play and went to the bench.

The Wolves’ offense wasn’t as sharp as it had been for most of the series and committed four turnovers in the first quarter. Denver led 28-20 after one game.

The crowd booed Denver guard Jamal Murray, who threw a heating pad on the ground in Game 2, every time he touched the ball. But Murray had a good quarter and led Denver to the lead. He had eight points in the first.

Denver shot 11 of 22 in the first quarter while the Wolves were 8 of 19.

The Wolves took 11 threes to eight twos and reached the free throw line only once, on a three-second defensive call.

Denver, which has a shallow bench, faced three of its starters Nikola Jokic, Michael Porter Jr. and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope throughout the quarter. Murray played almost all 12.

7:37 p.m.: Chris Finch finds a comfortable spot

Timberwolves coach Chris Finch has a plan in place for how he will coach from the bench while rehabbing his surgically repaired right knee.

He will again be on the second row of the bench just behind some members of his team and said he will be near the players when they return to the bench during timeouts.

“I’m very happy with it and I’m also protected,” Finch said.

Finch said he felt good heading into Game 3 and the team was happy with how communication had gone over the first two games.

“I feel good. A little better every day,” Finch said. “The first few days were quite difficult, but when I’m not here with the team or in training, during the matches, I’m at home with my legs up. I started therapy this week, so It’s been good. The pain is slowly easing. I just don’t want to miss it. I have a great team, I trust them implicitly and I’m discovering a new rhythm and a new reality as I go along.

7:11 p.m.: Denver is determined

Denver coach Michael Malone and his team will “bounce back” after their 106-80 bombing of the Timberwolves at home in Game 2 on Monday.

For what?

“Just history, many years, games, challenges and struggles,” he told reporters. “I’ll be the first to admit that Game 2 is the first time I’ve seen this from our group. That’s why it was such a surprise to a lot of people who have come to respect and believe in Nuggets. Because not only did we get our butts kicked on the field, we didn’t face adversity. We kind of escaped and fell apart. last year so let’s get back to playing like that, acting like that.

“What gives me confidence is that this team has shown me that they have done it many times before. You come back to the bubble (tournament in Orlando during the Covid pandemic), trailing twice 3- 1, two 3-1 deficits in one spot no one wanted to be. We could have easily let go and our guys chose not to so I’d be shocked if we were sitting here after the game. our team provided the same kind of effort as in Game 2.”

The Nuggets listed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (abdominal contusion), Reggie Jackson (left calf contusion) and Jamal Murray (calf contusion) as all questionable. Malone said everyone was upset in the playoffs and indicated he expected his players to continue playing.