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Wolves 136, Nuggets 130: The Big Three Take Turns

Six-seed hopes stay alive as the Wolves big three, and two of the league’s best centers, shine.

The first game of the Wolves-Nuggets season series this season resulted in a 93-91 Timberwolves loss. Karl-Anthony Towns had 14. Nikola Jokic had 26.

How things have changed half a year later...

The Timberwolves came into Denver in a must-win situation to keep their six-seed hopes alive in the west. It was clearly known by the superstar centers on both teams, and the Wolves took their third straight against the Nuggets, to clinch the season series 3-1.

It’s the first time they’ve gone undefeated in Denver since the 2002-03 season.

KAT’s Big Night

Between both Towns and Jokic, roughly 30% of the points scored tonight were between the two. If you have a child/family member who wants to play the center position, this would be the game film to show them.

Towns started out hot with 16 of his 32 coming in the first quarter, but quickly found his way into foul trouble with a couple haphazard hacks. It almost worked out for the better, with the Wolves finding some short-term success matching Jarred Vanderbilt up on Jokic to spell KAT.

The Nuggets followed a similar pattern. After finding little success early matching Jokic up on KAT defensively one-on-one, they found a little more success with the Jeff Green - double team approach.

The moral of the story? Unstoppable force meets immovable object.

D-Lo Finds his Rhythm

Russell had a rather unorthodox game for himself, but it did the trick in snapping his cold spell. A couple reasons why:

  1. He’s been the best clutch scorer on the Wolves this season and normally the ball finds his hands when the game gets tight. He scored 22 of his 24 in the first half, and did most of his work off the ball in the second.
  2. Russell doesn’t get to the line with a very high frequency. He averages under four attempts from the line per game this season. He shot 11 tonight, and got to the bucket with a higher frequency, and seemingly easy.
  3. FINALLY: He scored 22 with great efficiency. That’s the lede, and I buried it. In the last three games, Russell struggled mightily, and didn’t crack 15. He scored 10 of the Wolves’ first 14 points Friday.

Ant Closes Things Out

Anthony Edwards was 1-10 with four points heading into the fourth quarter. Granted, he made a couple nice plays in the early going.

But the shot wasn’t falling. Until the fourth.

In fact, he did one better and didn’t miss a shot, going 5-5 with 14 points in the quarter alone. He finished with seven assists and eight boards for the game to boot. Absolutely crucial down the stretch. With Beasley having a sporadic night, and Beverley making hay on defense, the Wolves needed the extra push late, and they got it.

One More Thing...

  • Patrick Beverley matched his career high tonight with six steals. He was all over the floor and came up with crucial turnovers seemingly every time the Nuggets pulled it within a couple possessions.
  • Malik Beasley returned from his sprained ankle to seemingly set up a revenge game against his former team. He was a little rusty, but getting him back into the fold will be crucial.

Back tonight...and a Wolves win. Coincidence?

Up Next

The Wolves head to Houston for an early Sunday matchup with the Rockets, losers of their last three (including a back-to-back against the brutally shorthanded Kings).

Minnesota sits exactly two games behind Denver now for the six seed. “This is a must-win game against the Rockets” might activate a sleeper cell, but it couldn’t be more true. The ramp-up in the next few games will be crucial in order to move into that spot, especially with the Nuggets’ next game being against the Lakers, with Anthony Davis back in the fold.

Game Highlights