The Western Conference’s top-seeded Denver Nuggets survived a third quarter explosion from the Minnesota Timberwolves to win Game 2 122-113, taking a 2-0 series lead in the first round of the playoffs.

Denver led Minnesota by as many as 21 points in the first half, taking to the locker room with a 64-49 lead at halftime. But an astonishing 40-23 third quarter victory by the Timberwolves put Denver on the ropes in Ball Arena.

Anthony Edwards had a particularly incredible night for Minnesota, scoring 41 points on 14-of-23 shooting. But down the stretch, it was Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., and Aaron Gordon hitting big shots down the stretch to secure the victory.

Minnesota took an 89-87 lead in to the fourth quarter before Porter Jr. scored the game’s next eight points for a 95-89 lead. But Edwards refused to let the game slip away, scoring 14 of his 41 points in the game’s final period, and giving the Timberwolves a 99-98 lead with 6:55 to go.

But Denver’s well-rounded offense closed out the game, with Jokic, Murray, Porter Jr., and Gordon all getting touches, assists, and most importantly, buckets.

Murray lit up the score board all night, leading all Nuggets scorers with 40 points on 13-of-22 shooting, including 6-of-10 three-point shooting. Jokic flirted with a triple double, anchoring Denver’s offense with 27 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists. Jokic and Murray did commit seven turnovers though, and Minnesota outscored the Nuggets 14-8 on points off turnovers.

The Nuggets also sent the Timberwolves to the line 23 times with Jokic, Porter Jr., and Bruce Brown picking up four fouls each and Gordon picking up five fouls. Head coach Mike Malone didn’t dig too deep at all in to the bench, playing essentially a seven-man rotation: the five starters plus Jeff Green and Bruce Brown, with cameo appearances from Christian Bruan.

Porter Jr. poured in 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting, Gordon scored 12 points on 6-of-11 shooting, and Green led all bench scorers with 11 points.

Minnesota got a great night from Edwards (41 point,) and a good night from Rudy Gobert (19 points,8 rebounds, 4 assists,) but failed to get a good game out of Karl Anthony-Towns (10 points on 3-of-12 shooting, -9 court rating.)

With the 122-113 win at Ball Arena, the Nuggets take a 2-0 series lead for the first time under Mike Malone. Denver now travels to the Target Center in Minnesota for Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Sunday. If necessary, Game 5 will take place back at Ball Arena on Tuesday.

Will there be a Game 5, or will the Nuggets sweep the Timberwolves? Can Minnesota build off their progress in Game 2 and win a game on their home court? To join the conversation, be sure to follow Sak Sports Blog on Twitter.




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