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May 26, 2024

NBA Fans Blast Nikola Jokić, Nuggets as Anthony Edwards, Wolves Take 2-0 Series Lead

NBA Fans Blast Nikola Jokić, Nuggets as Anthony Edwards, Wolves Take 2-0 Series Lead

Scott Polacek @@ScottPolacek Featured Columnist IV May 7, 2024

AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post

The reigning champions are on the ropes.

The Minnesota Timberwolves shocked the Denver Nuggets with a 106-80 victory in Game 2 of their second-round playoff series on Monday at Ball Arena. Minnesota won each of the first two contests on the road and now has a 2-0 lead with the chance to win the series in the next two games at home.

And it won Game 2 without its defensive anchor since Rudy Gobert was out for personal reasons with the birth of his first child.

Anthony Edwards (27 points and seven assists on 11-of-17 shooting from the field) and Karl-Anthony Towns (27 points and 12 rebounds on 10-of-15 shooting from the field) helped make up for his absence, while the Minnesota defense set the tone from the start.

Nikola Jokić had 16 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists, but Jamal Murray went 3-of-18 from the field while the Nuggets as a whole drew criticism for their performance:

Kevin O’Connor @KevinOConnorNBA It’s unbelievable how much better the Timberwolves look than the Nuggets right now. This is CRAZY

Myron Medcalf @MedcalfByESPN The Timberwolves don’t think the Nuggets belong on the same floor with them. And I can’t think of the last time a team stepped to a defending champ like this in their building.

Swipa @SwipaCam They should be embarrassed. It’s really that simple. They have come completely apart.

Adam Mares @Adam_Mares We have never seen the Nuggets unravel like this. Completely shook. This Timberwolves defense has squashed them.

Rich Eisen @richeisen Live shot from Denver pic.twitter.com/eYA9ZB3jKc

NBA Memes @NBAMemes Live look at Nikola Jokic playing defense this postseason…pic.twitter.com/s7yZm2EwLY

LakeShowYo @LakeShowYo Murray & Jokic when it’s not D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura on defense pic.twitter.com/sZGCjR3Yol

Rob Perez @WorldWideWob been more than two years since they looked this mortal.

Insane Asylum Sources @hmfaigen Naz Reid should tell Jokic the next five years are his

Robby Kalland @RKalland didn’t think it was possible for a star player to annoy me more than hali did tonight with their performance but kudos to murray for pulling it off lol

Daman Rangoola @damanr This game needed “hair on fire” Jokic who sensed the team didn’t have it and he needed to come out chucking and open everything up

Jeff Mangurten @JeffGurt Nuggets body language right now reminding me of the 2007 Heat team that the Bulls swept in the first round. Defending champions realizing that winning another one is going to be even more effort than the first one and just being happy with the one.

Jonathan Von Tobel @meJVT The Nuggets falling apart mentally is not something I had on my bingo card.

Dan Favale @danfavale pic.twitter.com/E6YdUNSuaX

Hardwood Paroxysm @HPbasketball Murray’s been awful, terrible, no good. He’s also given what he has, he’s just not good on the calf and in the matchup. He should adapt more, for sure, but the effort is there. (Heat pack was embarrassing.)

Not the same for all Nuggets.

Jason Timpf @_JasonLT Regardless of what happens the rest of this game, if Denver goes to the press and complains about the physicality, this thing is over.

It’s not changing. They need to embrace it and meet that level. https://t.co/8Ja5ofwNTS

Hardwood Paroxysm @HPbasketball It feels the product of hubris. They were not hungry the whole year. Got reliant on clutch performances. https://t.co/xVX0n7psAb

All the pressure was on Denver since the Timberwolves already stole home-court advantage with their Game 1 win. That the visitors were playing without Gobert only made it feel like more of a must-win for a Nuggets team facing a playoff series deficit for the first time since 2022.

And Denver cracked under that pressure.

Minnesota stunned the crowd by jumping out to a commanding 26-point halftime lead with Towns and Edwards expectedly leading the way. It was far from just the stars, though, as the Timberwolves’ team defense stifled everyone but Aaron Gordon in the first half and turned Jokić into a turnover machine at times.

Frustration was the prevalent theme for Denver, so much so that Murray even threw a heat pack onto the court from the bench as the game was ongoing:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport Jamal Murray threw a heat pack onto the court 😳 pic.twitter.com/Iho8YW8Q0H

sreekar @sreekyshooter Jamal Murray is now the second most famous Canadian in the last 24 hours to publicly throw in the towel after underperforming in the face of intense pressure

It’s been a long time since the second half of a Nuggets playoff game was largely a formality because they were the ones trailing by so much. But that was the reality Monday, which is a testament to Minnesota’s incredible performance and Jokić and Co. looking uncharacteristically terrible.

Even when the home team took some momentum into the fourth quarter by trimming the deficit from 32 to 22, the Timberwolves answered with critical three-pointers from Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Towns and Edwards.

The latter even added more fuel to the Michael Jordan comparisons with a shrug celebration:

NBA on TNT @NBAonTNT ANTHONY EDWARDS 🔥 pic.twitter.com/shHT8uY6oo

The result was an outcome that was never truly in doubt, and the Timberwolves will now look to pull further ahead of the Nuggets when the series shifts to Minnesota for Friday’s Game 3.

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