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NBA Playoffs: Nikola Jokić, Nuggets Cruise To Blowout Win Over Timberwolves In Game 3 NBA Playoffs: Nikola Jokić, Nuggets Cruise To Blowout Win Over Timberwolves In Game 3

NBA playoffs: Nikola Jokić, Nuggets cruise to blowout win over Timberwolves in Game 3

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After dropping down 0-2 in the series, the Denver Nuggets finally look like themselves. (David Berding/Getty Images)

Nikola Jokić and the defending champions weren’t going to just roll over and call it.

Jokić and the Denver Nuggets, after a brutal start in the Western Conference semifinals, came out firing on Friday night in Minneapolis. They cruised to a dominant 117-90 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 3. The win, after slipping in the first two games at Ball Arena in Denver, finally has them on the board in their series. It also handed the Timberwolves their first loss of the postseason, which completely stunned the sellout crowd at the Target Center.

After a tight first quarter, the Nuggets closed out the period on a quick 12-4 burst to grab an eight point lead at the break. That was, at that point, their largest lead of the series.

From there, Denver took off. The Nuggets opened the second period on a huge 17-5 run, and they took a 20 point lead after Christian Braun drilled a 3-pointer just minutes into the quarter. Just like that, the Timberwolves were nearly out of it.

The Nuggets held Minnesota to just 21 points as a team in the second quarter, which gave them a 15-point lead at the break. Karl-Anthony Towns was the only Timberwolves player to hit double figures in the first half after he hit four 3-pointers. Jamal Murray had 18 of his 24 points in the first half for Denver after his rough outing in Game 2 — which resulted in a $100,000 fine from the league after he threw things onto the court out of frustration. The Nuggets simply dominated throughout the first 24 minutes.

The Nuggets then pushed their lead past 20 points quickly in the third quarter after Aaron Gordon hit a pair of 3-pointers and Michael Porter Jr. followed with one of his own in the span of about a minute — which all but put the Timberwolves away for good. The Nuggets pushed their lead to 27 points by the end of the third quarter, and then had no issue finishing out the 27-point win.

Anthony Edwards led the Timberwolves with 19 points after shooting 8-of-15 from the field. Towns finished with 14 points, and Mike Conley added 10 points, six assists and six rebounds. Minnesota went just 9-of-27 from the 3-point line as a team. Frustrations boiled over at the end, too, and Nickeill Alexander-Walker was tossed from the game in the final minutes after arguing with the officials.

Jokić finished just shy of a triple-double to lead the Nuggets. He had 24 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists. Murray had four assists and four rebounds to go with his 24 points, and Porter finished with 21 points. The Nuggets shot nearly 54% from the field as a team and just shy of 49% from behind the arc.

Friday’s game completely got away from the Timberwolves. Though they still hold the edge in the series, Sunday’s Game 4 is now critically important for a team that hasn’t been to the Western Conference finals in two decades. If they have to go back to Denver next week tied up 2-2, it will truly be anyone’s series to win.

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