NBA Playoffs: Timberwolves rally from 20-point deficit to stun Nuggets in Game 7 to reach conference finals

Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets were ready to end their streak without any problems Sunday night.

They blew a 20-point lead in the second half and largely shut down Minnesota Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards. However, despite a very poor offensive showing in the first 24 minutes, the Timberwolves pulled off the largest halftime comeback in Game 7 NBA history.

The Timberwolves stunned the defending champions with a 98-90 victory in Game 7 of their semifinal series Sunday night at Ball Arena. They outscored the Nuggets 60-37 while completing a 30-point swing in the second half.

The win officially sends the Timberwolves to their first Western Conference Finals appearance in two decades. The Timberwolves are now 2-0 all-time in Game 7s.

“It’s a special moment,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said after the game. “This is a team with the best player on the planet and the series was wild. This game was a microcosm of the series.

After a very slow and defensive start to the game — both teams combined to shoot just 6-for-24 from the field to open the night — the Nuggets finally got going before halftime. They went on an 18-3 run at the end of the first period and the start of the second to take control of the game. They held the Timberwolves without a field goal for more than five full minutes during that stretch, then held them scoreless for the final two minutes of the half to take a 15-point lead into halftime.

Jokic had a 15-rebound double-double during that stretch, while Edwards shot 1-for-7 from the field.

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But somehow, after being stagnant offensively for most of the game, the Timberwolves came alive in the third quarter. After trailing by 20 points, they went on a 19-3 run and held the Nuggets without a field goal for more than six full minutes. Denver missed 13 of its last 16 shots of the third quarter.

Edwards, despite a brutal shooting streak, drilled a wild step-back 3-pointer over Aaron Gordon to start the game and cut the deficit to just one point late in the period. It won 28-9.

The Timberwolves didn’t stop there. They kept one step ahead of the Nuggets in the fourth quarter. Rudy Gobert even sank a fadeaway jumper early in the period.

Then Nas Reed showed up to close out the night. He pulled off a ridiculous put-back dunk over Jokic to put the Timberwolves up seven in the final minutes before setting up Edwards for a fast-break 3-pointer seconds later. Just like that, a 30-point turnaround was complete, and the Timberwolves were in complete control of the game.

Although the Nuggets didn’t pull away, the Timberwolves officially sealed the eight-point victory in the final minute.

“The season is over, that’s the hardest part,” frustrated Nuggets coach Michael Malone said after the game. “F*** it’s 20. The season’s over and you don’t understand. The season’s over and it’s hard.”

Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves in the win with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Edwards had 16 points, all but four of which came in the second half, along with eight rebounds and seven assists. He was 6-for-24 from the field and 2-for-10 from the 3-point line. Jaden McDaniels finished with 21 points. The Timberwolves shot 10-of-34 from behind the arc as a team and less than 40% from the field as a unit.

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Jokic finished with 34 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists. He shot just 2-for-10 from behind the arc. Murray finished with 35 points on 4-for-11 shooting from behind the arc. Both were the only Nuggets players to hit double figures on the night, and the Nuggets only got five points off the bench.

Now that they beat the Nuggets, the Timberwolves will now advance to the Western Conference Finals, where Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks await.

The Mavericks shut out the Oklahoma City Thunder in the semifinals Saturday night in Dallas. Doncic posted his third-straight triple-double while leading the Mavericks to a 4-2 series victory that officially clinched first place in the Western Conference. The Mavericks are now in their second conference finals in the last three seasons.

Game 1 of the Western Conference finals is set for Wednesday night in Minneapolis. This is the Timberwolves’ second appearance in the conference finals. They fell to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 series.

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