Live from Timberwolves-Nuggets Game 4

Play-by-play and in-game boxscore: press here

The Timberwolves and Denver play Game 4 of their NBA Western Conference playoff series tonight at Target Center, with the Wolves leading 2-1 entering the contest. Editor Chris Hine publishes this report live:

8:48 p.m.: The Wolves shave four points off Denver’s heavy halftime lead in the third quarter

Game 4 didn’t turn into a blowout after three quarters like Game 3 did, but the Wolves still trailed Denver 90-79 after three quarters.

Denver opened the third by getting buckets on its first five possessions, which shut down the Wolves starting with three straight threes.

The Wolves put Nikola Jokic in trouble, as he picked up his fourth with 7:15 left, and Denver opted to sit him with six minutes remaining. After a 1-for-10 first half, Karl-Anthony Towns tried to get going offensively, and he was 3-for-6 in the third. Anthony Edwards continued to please the Wolves with his scoring, and he had 37 points after the third.

Denver led by as many as 18, its largest lead of the quarter, before the Wolves cut it to 10 with a 13-5 run.

But with Jokic on the bench, the Wolves couldn’t cut into Denver’s lead as much as Aaron Gordon continued his strong play. He was 9 of 9 for 23 points after three quarters while Justin Holiday scored 10 points coming off the bench.

8:03 p.m.: Jamal Murray scores from half court at the buzzer for a 15-point lead over the Nuggets

Denver’s Jamal Murray intercepted a pass and launched a 55-footer as the second-quarter buzzer sounded, giving Denver a 64-49 halftime lead. The Nuggets shot 64.3% against the vaunted Wolves defense as Nikola Jokic had 19 points, six rebounds and four assists.

The Wolves clawed their way back into the game, slowly chipping away at Denver’s lead with an increase in their defensive intensity, and the Nuggets made a late-quarter haymaker.

The Nuggets scored eight points in the final 20 seconds, first with a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope three-pointer. Following an Anthony Edwards turnover at the other end, Jokic hit Michael Porter Jr. for a dunk. Then the Wolves got sloppy with the inbounds pass as time expired and Murray ended up with a steal and desperation basket.

The Wolves had cut Denver’s lead to make it a seven-point game.

The Wolves’ bench, which was expected to be a strength for them heading into the series, was dominated by Denver’s reserves to open the second quarter. Justin Holiday knocked down a pair of treys to spark a 12-2 run against the Nuggets to open the second.

The Wolves trailed by as many as 16, 46-30, with 7:46 left in the quarter. Anthony Edwards and Naz Reid were the only things going offensively for the Wolves in the first half.

Edwards finished 8 of 12 with 23 points while Reid was 4 of 4 with nine points. Aside from those two, the Wolves shot 6-of-27.

7:34 p.m.: KAT goes to 0 out of 7, Wolves trail by five after one quarter

The Timberwolves had a lot of energy early and took a seven-point lead, but their offense disintegrated as the first quarter wore on and they trailed 29-24 after one quarter.

Karl-Anthony Towns got off to a rough start as he went 0-of-7 from the floor in the first quarter. That contributed to an 8-for-22 performance by the Wolves in the first quarter while Denver opened the night 12-for-19.

League MVP Nikola Jokic came out with a stronger mindset to start for Denver, as he had 11 points in the first quarter. Aaron Gordon also scored eight points as the Nuggets overcame early foul trouble against Jamal Murray, who had two in the first 6 minutes, 12 seconds.

Anthony Edwards promised to provide more energy for the Wolves, and he did just that by hitting his first four shots to get 11 points in the quarter. But adding to Towns’ issues, Mike Conley started the night 1-for-4.

5:30 p.m.: Layoff between 2 and 3 made Wolves “feel fat and lazy”

After the third game, Wolves coach Chris Finch said the team may have been distracted while at home the entire week leading up to Friday. Before Game 4, Finch was asked what type of distractions the team might face during the week.

“Do you like your family when they’re there all the time?” » said Finch, laughing.

He referenced several players having babies during the season and everyone having to deal with “life stuff” and how that contrasts with being on the road.

“When you’re on the road, it’s more of a bunker mentality,” Finch said. “The day is set out for you. This is what we do every minute of the day. A house is a little different. You have to be a pro, you have to be able to handle it.”

Finch said the break between Games 2 and 3 allowed the Wolves to hear a lot of the praise they were receiving after their resounding Game 2 victory.

“The long absence definitely made us feel fat and lazy with everyone telling us how well we played,” Finch said. “They did an incredible job of setting the tone for us. We didn’t really respond and they got our attention. So now it’s up to us to turn things around tonight.”

Morning shoot: “I threw it down the toilet”

Sunday is a new day and Game 4 a new game, so Timberwolves guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker said he isn’t looking back from the lopsided 107-90 Game 3 loss and a late-game collision with the three-time Denver MVP Nikola Jokic late. in the game.

All he got out of that collision was a technical foul, and an upset Jokic wasn’t called for a foul for the leaning screen he placed on him near the three-man line. points. Alexander-Walker’s teammate, Kyle Anderson, also received a technical foul for arguing.

On the field, Alexander-Walker rolled over to the fans seated at pitchside, where he remained for a short time, apparently in pain. He finally left the field and entered the tunnel with less than six minutes to play and his team trailed by around twenty points.

“I flushed it down the toilet, to be honest,” Walker-Alexander said during Sunday’s Game 4 shootout of the game and the play. Jokic) We knew what it was about. We approached it together. What do we need to do to be better?

Alexander-Walker was not listed on the Wolves’ injury report for Game 4.

“I feel good,” he said Sunday morning.

Veteran Wolves point guard Mike Conley was asked Sunday morning how such incidents and emotions carry over into the upcoming playoff game(s).

“For some people,” Conley said. “I know for Nickeil, that’s probably the case. He might fall on purpose on a few screens tonight. You never know. It’s a physical game. We know that. We all get his with those screens. We let’s get all these screens out to people. I know he’ll be ready to play, just like the rest of us.

The Wolves have only lost consecutive games four times in the regular season and have never lost three games in a row. They are also 10-0 after double-digit losses, including in the playoff opener in Phoenix. They were 6-0 in the playoffs through Friday’s game. They have a 2-1 lead in this best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series.

“I expect the exact same response they had to us last game,” Conley said. “Come out with a sense of urgency, a little anger, emotion, all those things that go into that. Guys don’t like to lose, especially at home like we did. It was An embarrassing way to go out, but the guys will be ready to go.”

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