May 19, 2024

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The Timberwolves steal first game from the Nuggets

The Timberwolves steal first game from the Nuggets

Click here for play-by-play and in-game box scores

The Timberwolves and Nuggets meet tonight in Game 1 of their playoff series. The Star Tribune’s Wolves reporter Chris Hayne won with live reporting from Ball Arena in Denver.

8:30 PM: Naz Reed and Anthony Edwards help secure the win over the champions

Coming into the series, the Timberwolves had heard all about how Denver was perhaps the best team in the league at the time of the clutch.

But in Game 1, at that point in the game, in the Denver building, it was the Wolves who did what they wanted to do on both ends of the court in a 106-99 win.

Anthony Edwards, who bailed on the Wolves as they struggled to score in the first half, hit a dagger shot, a mid-range jumper, to put the Wolves up 102-91.

Edwards was great again in the biggest moments. He finished the game with 43 points, and scored 25 of Wolves’ 40 points in the first half.

Karl-Anthony Towns had a big third quarter for the Wolves and finished with 20 points.

The Wolves got a big boost from Naz Reid, who scored 14 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, including a three-pointer that seemed to settle after a rough first half in which he scored no points and two turnovers. Rudy Gobert even scored on a pair of buckets down the stretch as the Wolves managed to fluster Nikola Jokic enough in the final minutes.

Jokic had 32 points, eight rebounds and nine assists.

Edwards hit a slam dunk against Gordon to put the Wolves ahead 84-81 with 7:23 to play.

Then Reid, who struggled in the first half, had seven big points for the Wolves to put them ahead 91-86. Reed hit a 3-pointer late in the shot clock, then got a big hit and followed up with a layup. That came with Towns sitting on the bench with five fouls.

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Reid scored 14 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter. He finished the drive by scoring a hat trick to put the Wolves ahead 94-88.

The Wolves then got an offense in the fourth quarter from an unexpected place — Rudy Gobert, who fouled his own net, then took a shot as the shot clock was about to expire.

7:47 p.m.: The Wolves are firmly in third place by 2 points entering the fourth quarter

The Wolves opened up their offense in the third quarter and led 73-71 heading into the fourth quarter.

Karl-Anthony Towns came out burning for the Wolves as he had 11 of Minnesota’s first 14 points of the quarter and raised his point total to 20 points for the game.

Mike Conley chipped in with 11 points in the third period after not scoring in the first half.

The Wolves went with a small lineup to end the quarter that included Naz Reid in the 5th, and they were able to make it pay off.

Anthony Edwards picked up a technical foul late in the quarter after staring at Reggie Jackson following a layup.

Jamal Murray, who scored a scoreless draw in the first half, joined Denver with seven points in the quarter.

7:03 p.m.: The Nuggets lead 44-40 at halftime despite no points from Jamal Murray

The Timberwolves’ offense was nonexistent — except for Anthony Edwards — and they trailed the Nuggets 44-40 at halftime.

Edwards had 25 of Minnesota’s 40 points on 10-for-17 shooting, while the rest of the Wolves were just 6-for-27. Karl-Anthony Towns made three of those field goals for nine points.

The Wolves’ defense has done a commendable job of limiting Denver’s potent offense — the Nuggets are just 16-for-40 from the floor — but the Wolves have failed to capitalize on it on the other end.

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The Wolves suspended Jamal Murray, who finished the half 0-for-5 and did not score, with Edwards taking over much of the one-on-one duties against Murray. Murray was the hero of Denver’s first-round win over the Lakers, scoring the winning shots in Games 2 and 5.

Nikola Jokic scored 15 points, four rebounds and five assists for Denver, while Michael Porter Jr. scored 13 points.

6:35 p.m.: Denver rallies from 18-4 hole to lead first quarter 25-23

The Wolves couldn’t have started the first quarter any better — and they couldn’t have finished it worse.

After going on an 18-4 run to start the game, Denver closed the quarter on a 21-5 run to take a 25-23 lead after one.

Anthony Edwards scored 16 points for the Wolves, who shut out Denver when the team initially fell. They held Jamal Murray to 0-for-3 from the field and held Denver to just four points through the first 7:10 of the game.

But Denver is never far from getting back into the game.

The Wolves’ bench minutes, one of their potential strengths in the series, were a disaster in the first quarter. Naz Reid tried too hard at times to make things happen and missed an easy shot and had a costly turnover. The Wolves had difficulty scoring beyond Edwards.

Nikola Jokic, who will likely be the NBA’s MVP this season for the third time, had nine in his first game with the Nuggets.

6:10pm: Finch has a nice place to train from

The question of how Chris Finch will coach Wolves tonight has been answered quickly and comfortably.

Finch sat to the right of assistant head coach Mika Nouri, behind Nouri. The radio broadcast table protects Finch from oncoming traffic.

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Finch can get up and talk to players during a timeout.

4:40pm: Wolves coach Chris Finch will sit near the bench as Mika Nouri calls the plays

Timberwolves coach Chris Finch left his crutches with a member of the team’s public relations team and took the stage for the pregame news conference.

“That was easy,” Finch joked before making his first public comments since surgery Wednesday on a torn right patellar tendon.

Finch suffered the injury Sunday in the closing game of the first-round series in Phoenix and there were questions about his role in the series.

He will be in the bench area assisting assistant coach Mika Nouri, who will handle game reaction and game flow duties as permanent bench coach.

“I feel pretty good, all things considered. The plan was to try to stay here the whole time,” Finch said. “Just see how I felt day to day. Then kind of figure out logistically what it would be like on the bench and with the other coaches.”

Finch has been using crutches to get around in Wolves training over the past few days and ahead of the game. Finch said the goal since suffering the injury is to get to Denver and help in any way he can after Wednesday’s surgery.

“I was open to everything,” Finch said. “They told me they really wanted me to rest. I was trying to do that. But I also wanted to be here, if I could be here in any capacity. That was the most important thing to me. Literally just taking it day by day and seeing how I felt.” “