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May 15, 2024 1:17 am

Nikola Jokic guides Nuggets to 3-2 edge on Wolves

Nuggets, Timberwolves

Nikola Jokic celebrated his third MVP trophy ceremony by scoring 40 points and handing out 13 assists as the host Denver Nuggets beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 112-97 on Tuesday in Game 5 of a Western Conference semifinal series.

Aaron Gordon logged 18 points and 10 rebounds while Jamal Murray and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 16 points apiece for Denver, which leads the best-of-seven series 3-2 after dropping the first two at home.

Game 6 is Thursday night in Minneapolis.

Minnesota All-Star guard Anthony Edwards struggled from the field, finishing 5-for-15 and scoring 18 points. He added nine assists.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 23 points and Rudy Gobert amassed 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who played without point guard Mike Conley (right Achilles soreness). Nickeil Alexander-Walker moved into the starting lineup and scored 14 points.

Jokic received his MVP trophy from NBA commissioner Adam Silver before tip-off, then scored 12 points in the first quarter and seven in the second to stake Denver to a 50-44 halftime lead.

Edwards attempted just eight shots in the first half, hitting only one, and he didn’t take a shot in the first seven-plus minutes of the third quarter. After the Nuggets grabbed a 76-63 lead, he got aggressive, hitting a layup and converting a three-point play to quickly cut the deficit to eight points.

Jokic took over the rest for the remainder of the quarter, banking in a hook shot, converting a pair of three-point plays and making two more free throws to put Denver ahead 88-74 heading into the fourth.

Jokic finished the third with 16 points on 6-for-7 shooting.

Gordon hit the first basket of the fourth before the Timberwolves scored six quick points to cut the gap to 90-80 and force a timeout. Caldwell-Pope sank two corner 3-pointers and Murray stole the ball from Edwards and fed Jokic for a dunk and a 98-80 lead with 7:12 left.

Minnesota made a last push to get within 101-90, but Murray hit three shots in the final minutes to seal the win.

Christian Braun scored 10 points off the bench for Denver.

–Field Level Media

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