NBA playoffs: Minnesota Timberwolves knock out Denver Nuggets in Game 7

Timberwolves came back from 20 points down to win the series 4-3 against MVP Nicola Jokic’s Nuggets.

Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves drives to the basket between Nikola Jokic and Aaron Gordon of the Denver Nuggets in Game 7 of the NBA second-round playoff series [David Zalubowski/AP]

The Minnesota Timberwolves authored a stunning second-half comeback to beat the Denver Nuggets 98-90, knocking the defending champions out of the NBA playoffs.

It marked the sixth straight season that the defending champions failed to make it out of the second round.

“The teams are more hungry, better, [more] talented than last year,” Denver star Nikola Jokic said of the difficulty of repeating, even in a season in which he scooped a third Most Valuable Player award.

“Everybody gets better. Everybody wants to beat us, probably.”

The Timberwolves followed up a 45-point Game 6 victory with an epic comeback from 20 points down in the third quarter to win their best-of-seven series 4-3 and book a Western Conference finals clash with the Dallas Mavericks.

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, Jaden McDaniels added 23 points and Anthony Edwards hit his stride late as the Timberwolves became the first team to come back from a half-time deficit of more than 11 points to win a Game 7.

The Nuggets went cold as Edwards and the Timberwolves built a rhythm and cut the deficit to one point going into the final quarter, then took on a driving layup by Rudy Gobert early in the fourth.

“They were scoring,” said Jokic, who scored 14 of his 34 points in the fourth. “They had a lot of offensive rebounds. We cannot make shots.

“I think we had a lot of open looks, wide-open looks, but that’s what happens. Sometimes you make shots, sometimes you miss shots, and today I think we missed a lot of good shots.

“But that’s not just on us. They played some good defence.”

But Jokic said he would not buy into the notion that defeat felt worse because the Nuggets should have won.

“I don’t believe in that,” the Serbian said. “I think the team who wins is the better team.”

Pacers crush Knicks 130-109 to reach Eastern Conference finals

Tyrese Haliburton scored 26 points as the Indiana Pacers rode one of the most sensational first halves in Game 7 history to a 130-109 victory over the New York Knicks, advancing to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in 10 years.

The Pacers set an NBA playoff record by shooting 67.1 percent from the field and advanced to face top-seeded Boston in a series that begins on Tuesday. Indiana last reached the conference finals in 2014, losing to Miami.

The Pacers made 29 of their 38 shots in the first half, a shooting percentage of 76.3 percent that was the highest in the postseason since 1997, when the NBA began keeping detailed play-by-play for all four quarters. They led 70-55 at that point and pulled away every time the Knicks tried to make a run in the second half.

“I just told our team when you win a Game 7 in Madison Square Garden, you’ve made history,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said.

Pacers Knicks Basketball
Myles Turner shoots during the first half of Game 7 [Julia Nikhinson/AP]
Source: News Agencies