Denver Nuggets Secure No. 2 Seed in 99-95 Win Over Timberwolves

by Alex Labidou
Nuggets.com Staff Writer
@LabidouA

The Nuggets got a taste of playoff basketball and showed they are up for the challenge after a hard-fought 99-95 win over the Timberwolves at Pepsi Center.

It wasn’t pretty, but the Nuggets sealed second place in the Western Conference and will face the San Antonio Spurs in the opening round of the NBA Playoffs.

Minnesota focused on slowing the tempo and playing a halfcourt game, something Denver will certainly also encounter in the postseason. The visitors held the hosts to just seven fast break points and limited three point opportunities for the opening three quarters. In order to grind out a result, the Nuggets had to focus on scoring in the low post to secure the win. Taking advantage of Karl Anthony Towns’ absence, Denver outscored Minnesota 44-38 in the paint.

Nikola Jokić led the Nuggets with 29 points and 14 rebounds while Andrew Wiggins paced the T’wolves with 25 points, five rebounds and four assists. It was a strong return to form for the Serbian center, who had a 1-of-6 showing less than 24 hours ago.

The T’wolves came into the game sitting in 11th place in the Western Conference, but the team was relentless in Wednesday’s game. The Nuggets were solid in the first half as they took a 51-50 lead into the break thanks to a three in the dying seconds of the second quarter.

However, the game would almost get away from the hosts in the final 24 minutes of the game. The Nuggets started the third quarter brightly as they took a 65-60 lead thanks to a 9-2 run. But a determined Wiggins would shift the momentum of the game by scoring nine points in the third quarter to spark a 19-6 run to close out the quarter.

In the fourth quarter, it appeared to be more of the same as the team allowed Cameron Reynolds and Gorgui Dieng to combine for 11 points in the opening six minutes. The Wolves led by 11 points, but the Nuggets would fight back thanks to finding their three point touch. Denver would go on a 7-0 run thanks to threes by Will Barton and Paul Millsap. Moments later, Jamal Murray would come up clutch with what would be a game-deciding dagger from three to give the Nuggets a 96-95 lead. The home team would secure the win after free throws from Jokić and Millsap.

The Nuggets’ impressive performances on the second night of back-to-backs continued as the team finished with a 12-1 record in the games.

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