Anthony Edwards drops 43, Timberwolves steal Game 1 in Denver

DENVER – Anthony Edwards scored a career-high 43 points in the playoffs, Naz Reid had 14 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets 106- 99 in the first game of the second round series on Saturday. night.

Edwards was unstoppable in the first half, scoring 25 points, and Reid took over in the fourth quarter. Karl-Anthony Towns had 20 points despite foul trouble.

“The whole team, we trust each other,” said Edwards, who was 17 of 29 on the field. “It doesn’t matter who shoots. … I trust my teammates.”

Edwards is coming off a 40-point performance to close out the Phoenix Suns in Game 4 of this first-round series. He joins Kobe Bryant in 2001 as the only players with consecutive 40-point games at age 22 or younger in NBA playoff history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Game 2 will take place Monday evening in Denver.

Three days after undergoing knee surgery, Timberwolves coach Chris Finch was on the second-row bench, next to the scorers’ table and behind assistant coach Micah Nori, giving instructions and moving around off from the bench.

“All the plays we scored on were my decisions and the ones we didn’t score on were his,” Nori said. “(Finch) was great. He was like, ‘We don’t want it to be clunky,’ is the term he used. We did a good job.”

Two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic had 32 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists for Denver, but also had seven turnovers. Jamal Murray scored 17 points after being held scoreless in the first half.

Tied at 84, the Timberwolves went on an 18-7 run to open the scoring. Reid had 10 straight points for the Timberwolves at one point during the pivotal stretch.

Last year, the Wolves were a tough first-round opponent for Denver despite the absence of Reid (broken wrist) and Jaden McDaniels (broken hand) and with Karl-Anthony Towns coming off a serious calf strain that left him had cost 52 matches. This time, not a single Timberwolves player was listed on the injury report.

Besides being healthier, the Timberwolves were much better because of Edwards’ dramatic improvement in play, Denver coach Michael Malone suggested.

“There’s no weakness in his game,” Malone said. “And it’s going to be quite a challenge trying to slow him down.”

Especially when he has so much help.

“Naz Reid went for it. Karl-Anthony Towns went for it. Mike Conley went for it – where Anthony Edwards got the win in that first half,” Malone said. “But in the second half I just didn’t feel enough discipline and physicality and they were able to get what they wanted.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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