NBA: Jokic, Gordon lead Nuggets to Game 4 win over Timberwolves, series tied at 2-2

NBA: Jokic, Gordon lead Nuggets to Game 4 win over Timberwolves, series tied at 2-2

The Denver Nuggets have gotten back to their homecourt advantage following a 115-107 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center on Sunday night to even their Western Conference playoff semifinal series at 2-2.

The Nuggets completed the successful sweep of the Wolves in Minnesota, returning the favor to the third seed, who also did the same in the first two games in Denver.

Newly-crowned third-time league MVPs Nikola Jokic and Aaron Gordon led Denver to a well-deserved win, as they looked sharper than they were in Games 1 and 2 at home.

Jokic, who finished with 35 points, scored 16 in the fourth quarter, along with seven rebounds and seven assists, as he went 15 of 26 from the field. Gordon, on the other side, was more effective, shooting 11 of 12 from the field to finish with 27 points, seven rebounds, and six assists, as he got huge praise from head coach Michael Malone.

“The shot-making, the play-making, the physicality, the defense on two All-Stars, so much is being asked of him right now,” Malone said. “What you love about Aaron Gordon since Day 1, when he put on that Nuggets uniform, it’s always been about the Nuggets first. He is truly selfless.”

Jamal Murray carried the Nuggets in the third quarter, scoring 12 of his 19 points. He also added five rebounds and eight assists. Justin Holiday came off the bench with 10 points and three 3s, and Christian Braun got 11 points.

Denver led by as much as 15 points heading into the halftime break, and although the Timberwolves cut it down to 11 after the third quarter, Jokic erupted in the fourth to lead his team to victory.

The defending champions were more efficient, as they shot 57% from the field, 45% from 3-pointers, and 80% from the free throw line. They passed the ball more, resulting in eight more assists (29-21) than the Wolves, and despite being beaten 42-31 on rebounds, they took the game into the paint, where they outscored the hosts 52-48.

Anthony Edwards scored 44 points, adding to a long list of stellar performances for Minnesota, as he set a new franchise postseason record. The 22-year-old, who also got five rebounds and five assists, was 16 for 25 from the floor and 5 of 8 on 3s.

The former No. 1 pick made history as he surpassed LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Amar’e Stoudemire for the second-most 40-point games in the playoffs at age 22 or younger. Edwards, who got his fourth such game, is now only behind Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, who has five.

“This is a series. We won two games, but we didn’t think it was going to be easy,” Edwards said.

Veteran guard Mike Conley had 15 points and nine assists; Karl-Anthony Towns, who was hounded by Gordon all game, struggled as he went 5 for 18 from the field for 13 points and 12 rebounds; Rudy Gobert finished with 11 points and 14 boards and 14 rebounds; and Jaden McDaniels, along with Naz Reid, combined for 22 points at 11 points apiece.

The Wolves, who finished the regular season with the league’s best defensive record, were a shadow of themselves for the second straight game at home. In Game 3, they lost by 27, and Game 4 could have been the same, if not for Edwards.

The series will return to Denver for Game 5, with the two teams set for another showdown at Ball Arena on Tuesday, May 14.

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