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Timberwolves eliminate defending champion Nuggets

The Timberwolves and Nuggets played Game 7, the deciding game of their NBA Western Conference semifinal series, in Denver on Sunday night. Staff writer Chris Hine provided live updates from Ball Arena:

Score updates and in-game boxscore: tap here

9:30 p.m.: The Nuggets bow out in a glorious moment for the Wolves

For 20 years, Game 7 of the 2004 second-round series in which the Timberwolves beat the Kings was the franchise’s shining moment.

He finally had company on Sunday, as this Wolves team, 20 years to the day of that previous victory, put together a performance that will echo throughout team history with a 98-90 comeback victory in Game 7 against the defending champion Nuggets at Ball Arena. .

In the ultimate test of their mental strength, a team that was eliminated from the playoffs last season in five games by this same team came back from a 20-point second-half deficit at home. The Wolves will now meet the Mavericks in the Western Conference finals starting Wednesday at Target Center.

The Wolves outscored Denver 60-37 in the second half.

For some members of this Wolves team, personal legacies were rewritten Sunday night.

Wolves boss Tim Connelly, who received a lot of criticism for the decision to trade for Rudy Gobert two summers ago, built a Wolves team that eliminated his former team.

And Karl-Anthony Towns, who suffered through several losing seasons and playoff disappointments, who heard he could be a liability in these playoffs with his propensity to get into trouble and lose control of his emotions, was one of the best wolves of the evening when his fellow All-Star, Anthony Edwards, was in trouble.

Towns finished with 23 points and the ultimate exclamation point, a hit off a Mike Conley miss with 40.3 seconds left. He finished with a team-high 23 points. Jaden McDaniels had 21 and Edwards had 16 on 6-for-24 shooting.

A series that featured several blowouts finally had a game decided after the Wolves erased a 20-point deficit in the third quarter to take a 77-72 lead. The Wolves got some offense early in the fourth from Gobert, who started the quarter with an improbable bank shot. After the Wolves looked disorganized on offense in the first half, they finally started to get some open shots in the second half. Conley and McDaniels provided key baskets as the Wolves up 11-5. Gobert then unleashed another hard-to-believe shot, this time a high-arcing, clock-beating fadeaway.

A key moment came with 6:57 left, when Towns picked up his fifth foul.

The Wolves replaced Naz Reid, who made a layup and a pair of free throws to give the Wolves an 87-82 lead. He then made a Jokic block and a backhand on an Edwards miss to give the Wolves an 89-82 lead.

Conley picked off a steal from Jamal Murray on the next possession, which allowed Edwards, who had been struggling all night, to score a three-pointer in the corner. Edwards, never deterred from shooting, pulled the trigger and connected on only his second three shots of the evening. The Wolves led 92-82 with 3:05 left.

Gobert fouled out with 2:05 left and finished with 13 points and nine rebounds, including eight in the fourth quarter.

8:51 p.m.: When things looked dark, the wolves came roaring back

After falling behind by as many as 20, the Wolves pulled off a game early in the fourth quarter at Ball Arena and trailed 67-66 entering the fourth quarter.

The Wolves fell behind by as many as 20, 58-38, early in the third as Anthony Edwards’ offensive woes carried over from one half to the next. On one possession, he missed and opened three and after the Wolves got the rebound, he launched a contested mid-range jumper.

His teammates picked him up for the best part of the Wolves night. Threes from Jaden McDaniels and Mike Conley were part of a 15-1 Wolves run that pulled Minnesota within 59-53.

The Wolves continued to force players other than Nikola Jokic to beat them, and Denver went cold to the tune of 5 for 19 in the third quarter. An Edwards dunk in transition brought the Wolves within 61-57 with three minutes left and forced a Denver timeout.

The quarter ended with Edwards taking a three step back on Aaron Gordon to bring the Wolves within one. Towns had 21 points at the end of the third while also committing four fouls.

8:05 p.m.: Jamal Murray has the Nuggets in control at halftime

The Wolves’ offense — and Anthony Edwards — looked lost for much of the first half, and they trailed the Nuggets 53-38 at halftime.

This is the least significant first half of the season for the Wolves.

Edwards couldn’t get going offensively for the Wolves and so their scoring struggled. He started the game 1 of 7 and had just four points at halftime. Denver often sent double teams to get the ball out of their hands, and the Wolves couldn’t capitalize like they did in Game 6.

Denver scored 16 unanswered points late in the first and early minutes of its second quarter to take a 32-19 lead as Edward couldn’t find room to operate.

Jamal Murray finished the half with 22 points for the Nuggets. Nikola Jokic already has 15 rebounds for Denver.

The Wolves knocked Edwards out of the game and had one of their best offensive stretches as he cooled down. Jaden McDaniels had five points in a 10-2 spurt that pulled the Wolves to within 34-29. But the Nuggets fought back with six quick points to extend the lead to double digits.

The Wolves’ tendency to let the refs get in their heads began to set in during the quarter, as McDaniels picked up his third foul that put Denver in the bonus.

Denver’s defense swarmed the Wolves for most of the half and forced the Wolves to shoot just 12 for 38 (32%).

Their best offensive player of the half was Karl-Anthony Towns, who had 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting. When Denver opened a 48-33 lead, Towns scored five straight points to force a timeout from Denver with 2:13 left.

The Wolves’ supporting cast outside of McDaniels (10 points) had a rough night. Mike Conley was only 1 for 7, Nickeil Alexander-Walker 0 for 5 and Rudy Gobert 0 for 3.

7:29 p.m.: Both teams start cold, the Nuggets finish hot

If there’s a barometer of how this series has gone so far, it’s the play of Denver guard Jamal Murray. When Murray plays well, the Nuggets win. If he doesn’t, the Wolves win.

And Murray came on to play in the first quarter of Game 7 with 13 points as Denver led 24-19 after one.

Whether it was because of excitement, nerves, anxiety, or all of the above, both teams were unable to put the ball in the basket to open the night as they each opened the score at 2-for-9.

The Wolves made some notable defensive plays in the opening minutes as Rudy Gobert and Jaden McDaniels made big blocks at the rim; Gobert from Michael Porter Jr. after Porter blocked him on the other end, and McDaniels from Aaron Gordon.

The Wolves held the Nuggets to just five points in the first six minutes and led 12-5.

But Denver responded with the next seven points to tie the score. After a 1-of-4 start, Murray got going by hitting four of his next six shots, two of his next three, including a pair of threes late in the quarter that gave Denver the lead.

Nikola Jokic had six points, five rebounds and four assists.

The Wolves spread their scoring as Anthony Edwards, double-teamed, got off to a slow start with his shooting (1 for 5). Karl-Anthony Towns stayed clear of fouls with just one and had six points.

5:47 p.m.: “We’re a great team. And we’re playing another great team.”

Game 7 is here and one team has already advanced to the conference finals on the road, with Indiana winning the entire series at Madison Square Garden for the first time by overtaking the Knicks.

The Wolves know they can win at Ball Arena, having done so in two of three games played in Denver before Sunday.

But Anthony Edwards said after Saturday’s practice those games didn’t matter much.

“It’s behind us. It doesn’t give us any confidence,” Edwards said. “I think we’re confident just because we’re a great team. And we’re playing another great team and we feel like we’re the better team. That’s all the confidence we need. The previous two games didn’t It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t mean anything.”

Coach Chris Finch’s pregame media availability tonight was short – there’s not much to ask before a Game 7 – but he was asked if the season would be a success if the Wolves lost game 7.

“I would say it’s another step forward,” Finch said. “We’re trying to build something here. It’s better to evaluate these things after everything is said and done, but we’ve had a great season. These guys have done a great job of coming together, relying on an identity, playing for everyone But we don’t feel like our job is done, so we’re looking forward to getting a win tonight.”

Point guard Mike Conley (right soleus strain) was listed as questionable, but he started.

And…Scott Foster leads the officials team

Wolves center Rudy Gobert was fined once during the regular season, and again earlier in this series, for rubbing his fingers in a sign of money after calls from referee Scott Foster.

Foster is the head referee tonight, with David Guthrie and Curtis Blair as the other referees. The Wolves are 3-1 in the playoffs in games with this crew.

Gobert was fined $75,000 after the Game 4 loss in Denver after paying $100,000 during the season for a slightly more obvious move.

After the second fine, he said: “Individually, collectively, we have to, whatever happens, we have to focus on what we can control and can certainly control our emotions and control how we respond to adversity and everything that happens. the tribunal.”

News Source : www.startribune.com
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