NBA Western Conference semis: Minnesota stun NBA champs Denver in Game 1

Anthony Edwards’s 43 points led Minnesota Timberwolves’ 106-99 home win over Denver Nuggets.

May 4, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (5) shoots over Denver Nuggets guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (5) in the second quarter during game one of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards shoots over Denver Nuggets guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in Game 1 of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs [Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports via Reuters]

Anthony Edwards scored 43 points, Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 20 and the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves took home-court advantage from Denver with a 106-99 win over the Nuggets in Game 1 of a Western Conference semifinal series.

Naz Reid scored 14 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, Mike Conley had 14 points and 10 assists and Rudy Gobert grabbed 13 rebounds for Minnesota, which pulled away to begin the postseason 5-0.

“They are defending champs, they’re a hard team to beat. Great team. They got great players,” Edwards said of the Nuggets.

“They got the best player in the league with Nikola Jokic, they got the best closer with Jamal Murray, the best 3-point shooter with Michael Porter Jr So, it is tough to beat this team.”

Game 2 is in Denver on Monday.

Jokic had 32 points, Porter added 20 and Murray finished with 17, all in the second half, for the Nuggets, who are trailing in a playoff series for the first time since losing to the Golden State Warriors in the first round in 2022.

It was a tight game early in the fourth, but the Timberwolves were more poised down the stretch.

Conley hit his third 3-pointer of the game to give Minnesota an 80-77 lead, but Murray answered from deep and was fouled by Towns. He then proceeded to complete the four-point play.

Edwards, who had 25 points in the first half, hit a driving layup through traffic and a pullup 18-footer to put the Timberwolves back in front. Reid hit a pair of 3-pointers, converted a layup and dunked an Edwards miss to give Minnesota a 94-88 lead with 4:20 left.

Jokic converted a three-point play, but the Timberwolves then started to put the game away. Gobert made a layup and banked in a 13-footer and Edwards sank two free throws. Porter committed an offensive foul, and Edwards’ 14-foot fadeaway made it 102-91 with 1:36 left.

Jokic’s 3-pointer cut Denver’s deficit to 102-96 with 1:02 to go, but the Timberwolves closed it out.

Minnesota jumped out to an 18-4 lead with 5:12 left in the first quarter, but the Nuggets turned up the defence. They forced seven turnovers and held the Timberwolves to 22 points in the final 17 minutes of the first half to lead 44-40 at intermission.

Towns and Conley had 11 points apiece in the third quarter to help put Minnesota ahead 73-71 going into the fourth.

“An 18-4 start, so we get down early, fight like hell to take the lead at halftime, then we played no defense in the third,” Denver coach Michael Malone said.

“You can’t just trade baskets with that team.”

Source: News Agencies