Minnesota Timberwolves Stun Denver Nuggets Again To Take A Commanding 2-0 Series Lead

Edwards has been on fire so far during the playoffs. (Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters via CNN Newsource)

By Matias Grez, CNN

(CNN) — The Minnesota Timberwolves opened up a commanding 2-0 series lead over the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals thanks to a stunning 106-80 blowout in Game 2 on Monday.

The defending champion Nuggets had no answer for the electric Minnesota duo of Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns, who both scored 27 points in the rout.

The Timberwolves had to deal with the absence of big man Rudy Gobert – a Defensive Player of the Year finalist, who missed the game due to the birth of his child – but didn’t miss a beat on defense, holding Denver to 34.9% shooting from the field.

With the series now heading back to Minnesota for two games, the T-Wolves are well on course to reach a first Western Conference Finals in 20 years.

Only five teams in NBA history have come back to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first two games at home, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

“We’re extremely honored and blessed that we have this opportunity to go home up 2-0, but we’re humble in this approach,” Towns said after the game, per ESPN. “We understand that we’ve put ourselves in a great position, but as great as the position we are in, it could be very bad [if we don’t win during] our homestand.

“So we just got to go out there, take care of business, do what we do, play defense at a high level and execute even at a higher level because the defending champions, you can’t give them a minute of slippage at all in the game.”

Denver’s own deadly duo, Jamal Murray and two-time MVP Nikola Jokić, struggled all game under a stifling Timberwolves defense, the NBA’s best during the regular season, which head coach Chris Finch has fine-tuned to near perfection so far this series.

Murray, Denver’s hero with two game-winners in the opening round win over the Los Angeles Lakers, scored just eight points on 16.7% shooting, while Jokić had a double-double with 16 points and 16 rebounds to go with eight assists, but shot just 5-of-13 from the floor.

Murray also should have been called for a technical foul for throwing a heat pad onto the court while the game was live during the second quarter, but the incident was missed by the officials.

Aaron Gordon led Denver in scoring with 20 points.

The series now heads to Minneapolis for Game 3 on Friday.

Brunson leads Knicks to Game 1 win against Pacers

Jalen Brunson became just the fourth player in NBA Playoff history to have four straight 40-point games as he racked up 43 in the New York Knicks’ 121-117 Game 1 win over the Indiana Pacers.

Brunson scored 21 of his points in the fourth quarter to help the Knicks come back from a nine-point deficit early in the period.

Donte DiVincenzo scored 25 points, including a clutch, go-ahead three-pointer with 40 seconds remaining, while Josh Hart added 24 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists and three steals.

Miles Turner scored a team-high 23 points for the Pacers, but star guard Tyrese Haliburton’s postseason struggles continued as he put up just six points in the defeat.

There were a number of contentious refereeing decisions down the stretch, including one call for a kicked ball on Pacers forward Aaron Nesmith that clearly hit his hand, while Turner was questionably called for an illegal screen.

The two teams return to Madison Square Garden for Game 2 on Wednesday.

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