McDaniels, Edwards lead surging Timberwolves past Nuggets 111-98 and into 1st-place tie in West

Sat, Mar 30, 2024
NBA News (AP)

McDaniels, Edwards lead surging Timberwolves past Nuggets 111-98 and into 1st-place tie in West

DENVER (AP) - Anthony Edwards scored 25 points and Mike Conley added 23 in Minnesota's 111-98 rout of Denver on Friday night that sent the Timberwolves into a first-place tie in the Western Conference - and the defending NBA champion Nuggets into third place.

The Nuggets (51-23) failed to reach 100 points for the second straight game and fell a-half game behind the Timberwolves and the Oklahoma City Thunder, who easily handled Phoenix 125-108 on Friday night.

The Nuggets were without star point guard Jamal Murray (ankle, knee) for a fourth consecutive game, and once again their lack of depth was exposed as their bench provided very little help in Denver's second straight loss at home.

Nobody missed Murray more than MVP favorite Nikola Jokic, who had consecutive cringing turnovers to end the third quarter and missed 11 of his first 17 shots against Minnesota's pestering double teams before rallying to finish with 32 points.

Rudy Gobert added 21 points for Minnesota, which has won four in a row. Playing on the court where their playoff run ended last season, the Timberwolves took the lead for good on Gobert's alley-oop dunk in the opening minutes and never let up in cruising to their biggest victory of the season.

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After going 15-2 coming out of the All-Star break, the Nuggets find themselves in a sudden slump with back-to-back losses at home for the first time all season. They lost to Phoenix 104-97 on Wednesday night.

Before the game, Nuggets coach Michael Malone hinted Murray might also miss the Nuggets' Sunday matinee against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he said he wasn't worried that his star point guard would be out for much longer.

"I do think he will be back on the court before the playoffs start" in mid-April, Malone said.

By the time he returns, the Nuggets might find the coveted No. 1 seed they rode to their first NBA title last summer out of reach as they seek to repeat.

Behind 13 early points from Jaden McDaniels, the Wolves grabbed a 62-43 halftime lead and were never threatened after the break.

This marked the Timberwolves' first game since team owner Glen Taylor declared Thursday he won't take the final step of his drawn-out $1.5 billion deal to hand Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez the majority stake in the franchise as planned.

"If there was ever a definition of 'above your pay grade,' this is it," Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said before tip-off. "For us, it's business as usual. ... There's been no ripple effects down here at troop level."

Malone also chimed in on the Wolves' ownership drama as he praised Edwards' athleticism and physicality during his pregame news conference and also noted that Minnesota recently topped the 50-win mark for the fifth time ever.

"A lot to be excited about in Minnesota," Malone said. "I wouldn't sell the team, either."

The teams play again in Denver on April 10.

UP NEXT

Timberwolves: Host Chicago on Sunday night.

Nuggets: Host Cleveland on Sunday.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba

ARNIE MELENDREZ STAPLETON Arnie is an NFL writer based in Denver twitter mailto "
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