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NBA playoffs: Timberwolves rally from 20-point deficit to stun Nuggets in Game 7, reach conference finals

Nikola Jokić and the Denver Nuggets were close to closing out their series without much trouble on Sunday night.

They had built a 20-point lead in the second half and largely shut out Minnesota Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards, after all. Yet despite a largely dreadful offense through the first 24 minutes, the Timberwolves pulled off the greatest halftime comeback in a Game 7 in NBA history.

The Timberwolves came back strong to knock out the defending champions and earn a 98-90 victory in Game 7 of their semifinal series at Ball Arena on Sunday night. They outscored the Nuggets 60-37 in the second half while completing a wild 30-point swing.

The victory officially sends the Timberwolves into their first Western Conference Finals in two decades. The Timberwolves also now have a perfect 2-0 record in 7 games in history.

“It’s a special moment,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said after the game. “This is a hell of a team with the best player on the planet, and this series was crazy. This game was a microcosm of the series.

After a very slow and defensive start to the game – both teams combined to shoot just 6 of 24 from the field to open the night – the Nuggets finally got going before halftime. They ended up going on an 18-3 run at the end of the first half and start of the second and took complete control of the match. They held the Timberwolves without a field goal for more than five full minutes during that stretch, then held them scoreless for the final two minutes of the half to take a 15-point lead going into the break.

Jokić also had a double-double of 15 rebounds at that point, while Edwards shot just one of seven from the field.

But somehow, after being stagnant offensively for most of the game, the Timberwolves came back to life in the third quarter. After falling behind by 20 points, they went on a 19-3 run and held the Nuggets without a field goal for more than six full minutes. Denver ended up missing 13 of its final 16 shots to end the third quarter.

Edwards, despite a brutal shooting streak to start the game, hit a wild step-back 3-pointer over Aaron Gordon to cut the deficit to just one point late in the period. That capped a 28-9 run.

The Timberwolves didn’t stop there. They stayed ahead of the Nuggets well into the fourth quarter. Rudy Gobert even sank a fadeaway jumper at the start of the period.

Then Naz Reid showed up to close out the evening. He pulled off a ridiculous dunk over Jokić in the final minutes to put the Timberwolves up by seven before setting up Edwards on a quick 3-pointer a few seconds later. Just like that, a 30-point turnaround was complete and the Timberwolves were in complete control of the game.

Even though the Nuggets didn’t go away, the Timberwolves held on in the final minute to officially seal the victory by eight points.

“The season is over, that’s what’s hard,” frustrated Nuggets coach Michael Malone said after the match. “Fuck being ahead by 20. The season’s over, you don’t understand that. The season’s over, it’s hard.”

Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves with 23 points and 11 rebounds in the victory. Edwards had 16 points, all but four of which came in the second half, along with eight rebounds and seven assists. He shot just 6 of 24 from the field and 2 of 10 from the 3-point line. Jaden McDaniels finished with 21 points. The Timberwolves shot just 10 of 34 from behind the arc as a team and less than 40 percent from the field as a unit as well.

Jokić finished with 34 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists. He shot just 2 of 10 from behind the arc. Murray finished with 35 points after shooting 4 of 11 from behind the arc. The duo were the only Nuggets players to reach double figures on the night, and the Nuggets had just five points coming off the bench.

Now that they have beaten the Nuggets, the Timberwolves now advance to the Western Conference finals where Luka Dončić and the Dallas Mavericks await them.

The Mavericks closed out the Oklahoma City Thunder in their semifinal series Saturday night in Dallas. Dončić recorded his third straight triple-double while leading the Mavericks to a 4–2 series victory, officially eliminating the top seed in the Western Conference. The Mavericks are now in their second conference final in the last three seasons.

The first game of the Western Conference finals will take place Wednesday evening in Minneapolis. This will be the Timberwolves’ second appearance in the conference finals. They fell in the 2004 series to the Los Angeles Lakers.



News Source : sports.yahoo.com
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