Wolves vs. Nuggets score, highlights, takeaways: Nuggets rout Timberwolves in

Well, we’ve got a series. The Denver Nuggets took Game 3 from the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday in convincing fashion, 117-90, to trim the Wolves’ lead in this second-round series to 2-1. Game 4 is Sunday.

For the Wolves, this is the first loss they have suffered this postseason (6-1). There were talks of a sweep happening here, but come on. This is the Nuggets we’re talking about. Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic led the way with 48 combined points. Anthony Edwards led Minnesota with 19.

Below are three takeaways from Denver’s Game 3 victory:

Murray finally heats up

Murray shot just 9-for-32, including 1-for-15 in the first halves, through Games 1 and 2. That is just not feasible for a Nuggets team desperate to loosen the pressure of Minnesota’s unrelenting perimeter defense. In Game 3, Murray was aggressive from the start, and it led to the sorts of leveraged possessions that we’re used to seeing from Denver’s offense as Minnesota was scrambling around rather than settled in.

Murray finished with 24 points on 11-of-21 shooting. He was just a step quicker than he’s been. Decisive is the word I would use. Minnesota’s perimeter defenders are a pack of wolves (I know, it’s a lame word play, but it paints the right picture), and if you hesitate, the lineup will pounce. Murray stayed a step ahead all night, ready to pull up against the drop defenders or get downhill before higher hedges could force him into a corner. Pretty simply, he was just beating his man consistently.

Jokic is the MVP, but in many ways, the Nuggets go as Murray goes. He didn’t shoot well against the Lakers, but it was overshadowed by his two game-winners. He was terrible through the first two games of this series. Game 3 was the return of the playoff Jamal Murray we know, and if this gets him going for the remainder of the series, the Nuggets can absolutely buck the odds and recover from a 2-0 — now 2-1 — hole to advance.

Joker in charge

After Jokic scored just 16 points on 13 shots in Game 2, it would’ve been so easy for him to come out over-aggressive to score in some unnecessary attempt to validate his third MVP in four seasons. You know, if you have watched enough of Jokic, that was never going to happen.

It’s just not his way. Instead, he simply controlled the game as only he can — quarterbacking from the high post and in two-man actions. He found cutters and shooters and scored, for the most part, secondarily as Minnesota scrambled to thwart his passing options. And yet, he knew when he needed to attack, too. It’s poetic how naturally he senses spacing and the moving parts within it.

It led to a historic line: 24 points, 14 rebounds, nine assists, three rebounds and three blocks. Nobody else in history has matched the full breadth of that stat line in a playoff game.

Ant held in check

All Anthony Edwards did through the first two games of this series was go for 70 points. He was held to 19 on Friday on 15 shots. The Wolves can struggle to score in general. When Edwards isn’t cooking, it can be a real grind.

Of course, holding Edwards down is easier said than done. It’s not just about the way you defend him, which in some ways is irrelevant because he can score against any defender or defense; it’s about the manner in which you’re going about your own offense.

This means quality shots and low turnovers, which keeps Edwards out of the open floor and forces him and the Wolves to create consistent quality looks in the half court. They probably cannot out-execute Denver in a half-court affair. Denver committed just 11 turnovers on Friday, and were even more clean with the ball in the time when this was an actual competitive game than that number indicates.

Edwards has been incredible in this playoff run. But did we really think he was going to blow through Kevin Durant and Devin Booker and just keep right on going through Jokic and the defending champions? That wasn’t realistic. So now, the Timberwolves have lost a game for the first time in these playoffs, and we get to see how they respond in what will be a massive Game 4 on Sunday.

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