The Timberwolves and Nuggets meet at Target Center

The Timberwolves and Nuggets played Game 3 of their NBA semifinal series tonight at Target Center. Staff writer Chris Hayne provided updates from the game.

Live play by play

11:15 PM: There is no doubt that Denver wins easily 117-90

Ever since the Timberwolves beat the Nuggets in Game 2, fans in the Twin Cities have had visions of a deep playoff run. Maybe the Wolves are getting ahead of themselves a little too.

The defending champions responded with a statement of their own on Friday night with a 117-90 win over the Wolves at Target Center, knocking the Wolves off their feet for the first time in all of the playoffs and a mediocre team that was perhaps riding too high.

The Wolves lead the series 2-1 with Game 4 on Sunday at Target Center.

Denver dominated most of the night and asserted itself on both ends of the floor just as the Wolves did in Game 2.

Jamal Murray, who was booed by his fans most of the night, had 24 points after avoiding a suspension for throwing a heating pad on the floor in Game 2. Murray received a $100,000 fine just for his actions. He could play an important role in this series if Denver comes back to win.

While Murray dominated the first half with 18 points, Nikola Jokic confirmed that Wolves had no room for a comeback. He scored 24 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, and provided nine assists.

The Nuggets lost their nerve in Game 2. And now it’s the Wolves’ turn to lose some steam, as Nickeil Alexander-Walker, playing through an apparent left shoulder injury, was evaluated by a technician after a no-call on a hard screen left him in pain on the floor during a fourth-quarter timeout with 5 minutes, 54 to go. Seconds of play. When he got up, he was heated over referee Tony Brothers. Kyle Anderson also picked up a technique in the process.

This anger was in contrast to Alexander Walker, who usually kept his cool with officials.

Anthony Edwards finished with 19 points for the Wolves while Karl-Anthony Towns scored 14 points on just seven shot attempts. The Wolves finished with 16 turnovers.

Their offense relied too much on outside shooting early in the night, and the shots weren’t falling — they were 10-for-33 from deep.

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10:37 p.m.: The Nuggets take control of the game, leading by 27 points after three quarters

The Wolves had no answers as the Nuggets exited at the end of the first half and trailed Denver 93-66 after three quarters.

Aaron Gordon helped Denver take the lead early in the quarter by hitting three threes, which was a problem for the Wolves. Their defensive strategy for Nikola Jokic involves fielding Rudy Gobert against Gordon, who they rely on to either miss open threes or not take advantage of them. When he shoots and hits, it’s a sign that night has arrived in Denver.

Denver continued to pour it on throughout the quarter. Jokic started to step up in terms of scoring and had 13 points in the third quarter and is up to 20 points on the night. The Wolves continued to look out of sync on the offensive end even when Anthony Edwards tried to get them going in the third period. It was up to 19 points, but the Wolves’ defense looked helpless against the Nuggets, who made the Wolves look a step behind.

Jamal Murray also has 20 goals for Denver.

9:47 p.m.: Denver leads 56-41 at halftime

Jamal Murray shakes off frequent boos from the home fans and leads Denver to a 56-41 halftime lead.

Murray, who was fined $100,000 for throwing a heating pad on the floor in Game 2, looked more like himself with 18 points in the first half on 8-for-13 shooting.

He continued his strong performance at the beginning of the quarter, leading Denver 17-5 to open the second half and giving the Nuggets a 45-25 lead, while the Wolves struggled to score. They also, for the first time in this series, were one step behind on the defensive end of the floor.

The Nuggets outscored the Wolves bench 13-8 as Nikoa Jokic was quiet in the scoring department during the first half. He had just seven points but added six assists.

Wolves forward Jaden McDaniels continued his troubles with foul trouble by picking up the No. 3 just 2 minutes, 11 seconds into the second.

Looking for a spark on offense, Wolves coach Chris Finch went to point guard Jordan McLaughlin for his first significant minutes of the series at the end of the quarter. But McLaughlin missed two open 3-pointers.

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The Wolves finished the first half shooting 40% while Denver was at 54%, even with Jokic going 3-for-8. Naz Reid is 1-for-5 while Mike Conley is 2-for-8 for Minnesota.

Karl-Anthony Towns led the Wolves with 12 points from four three-pointers. Cities are not missed from the outside. Anthony Edwards has nine points on 4-for-8 shooting.

9:12 pm: The Nuggets defense puts pressure on the Wolves early

One way for Denver to get back into this series is for the officials to start calling more fouls than they did in the first few games and get some key Wolves into foul trouble. Jaden McDaniels picked up two fouls less than six minutes into the game and was benched.

The Wolves offense was not as sharp as it has been in most series and committed four turnovers in the first quarter. Denver led 28-20 after one.

The crowd booed Denver goalie Jamal Murray, who threw a heating pad to the floor in Game 2, every time he touched the ball. But Murray had a good quarter and led Denver to the lead. He had eight points in the first.

Denver scored 11-for-22 in the first quarter while the Wolves were 8-for-19.

The Wolves made 11 3-pointers to 8 2-pointers and got to the free throw line just once, on a three-second defensive call.

Denver, which has a shallow bench, played for the entire quarter with its three starters in Nikola Jokic, Michael Porter Jr. and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Murray played almost all 12 matches.

7:37 p.m.: Chris Finch finds a comfortable spot

Timberwolves coach Chris Finch has a plan in place for how he will coach from the bench while caring for his surgically repaired right knee.

He will once again be in the second row of the bench area directly behind some of his staff, and he said he will be near the players when they return to the bench during breaks.

“I’m very happy about it and I’m protected too,” Finch said.

Finch said he was feeling good about Game 3 and the team was happy with how communication went in the first two games.

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“I feel good. I’m getting a little better every day,” Finch said. “The first few days were very difficult, but when I’m not here with the team or in training, during the matches, I’m at home. I’m starting treatment this week, so it’s been good. The pain is slowly subsiding. I just don’t want to miss it. I have a team.” Great job, trust them implicitly and discover a new rhythm and reality as we move forward.

7:11 p.m.: Denver is set

Denver coach Michael Malone will “rebound” his team from a 106-80 shellacking of the Timberwolves at home in Game 2 on Monday.

Why?

“Just history, many years, matches, challenges and struggles,” he told reporters. “I’ll be the first to admit that Game 2 was the first time I’d ever seen that from our group. That’s why it was a big surprise to a lot of people who have come to respect and believe in the Nuggets. Because not only did we get our [butts] We kicked the field, and we didn’t face adversity. We kind of ran away from it and fell apart. We are the reigning world champion. Let’s not forget that. That was just last year, so let’s get back to playing this way, acting this way.

“What gives me confidence is that this team has shown me that they have done it many times before. You go back to the bubble (the tournament in Orlando during the Covid pandemic), where you lost 3-1 twice, and twice you trailed 3-1 within one position.” Nobody wanted that. We could have easily given up the rope and our guys chose not to, so I’d be shocked if we were sitting here after the game and our team gave the same effort they did in Game 2. “.

The Nuggets listed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (abdominal bruise), Reggie Jackson (left calf bruise) and Jamal Murray (left calf bruise) as all questionable. Malone said everyone is upset about the playoffs and noted he expects his players to keep playing.

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