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NBA PLAYOFFS
NBA Playoffs

Minnesota Timberwolves dominate Denver Nuggets to take 2-0 NBA playoff series lead

Field Level Media

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 27 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, Anthony Edwards also had 27 points and the visiting defeated the , , on Monday to take a 2-0 lead in a Western Conference semifinal series.

Minnesota won without center Rudy Gobert, who was away from the team for the birth of his first child. The Timberwolves, holding a decisive edge on the reigning NBA champions, head back to Minneapolis for Game 3 of the best-of-seven series on Friday.

Even without Gobert, a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, the Timberwolves held Denver to a season low in points. Jamal Murray scored eight points on 3-for-18 shooting but had a career-high 13 rebounds, and Nikola Jokic finished with 16 points and 16 rebounds.

"When you don't have the Defensive Player of the Year, you've got to step your game up," Towns told TNT. "We all understood the challenge coming in against the defending champions."

Karl-Anthony Towns reacts during the Timberwolves' Game 2 win over the Nuggets.

91影视 Gordon led the Nuggets with 20 points, and Justin Holiday had 13 off the bench. Reggie Jackson left the game in the fourth quarter due to an apparent ankle injury.

Naz Reid and Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 14 points apiece for the Timberwolves, who have started the playoffs with six straight wins.

"We expect to win no matter who's with us and who's not," Minnesota coach Chris Finch said. "Tweaked a few things with the game plan and went at them."

Minnesota looked smooth on offense, led by Towns scoring 20 points in the first half and the team shooting 54.5 percent from the field before the break. The Timberwolves used a dominant run bridging the first and second quarters to take control.

Leading 18-17, the Timberwolves proceeded to outscore Denver 24-5 to lead by 20 after a Reid 3-pointer with 8:05 left in the first half. The Nuggets got within 43-28, but Minnesota had a strong finish to the second quarter to lead 61-35 at halftime.

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Denver continued to struggle in the third quarter and the Timberwolves took advantage, leading by as many as 32 on Alexander-Walker's 3-pointer with 7:20 left in the period.

The Nuggets found some offensive rhythm late in the third to cut it to 82-60 heading into the fourth.

Jackson opened the final quarter with a 3-pointer to slice the deficit to 19, but Denver then missed a pair of shots from deep. Towns made a pair of free throws and Alexander-Walker soon hit his fourth 3-pointer to make it 87-65 with 9:18 left.

Another burst pushed the gap to 97-72 as Minnesota closed it out.

"It's going to be a challenge (coming back in the series)," Denver coach Michael Malone said. "The body language of our guys is not where it needs to be, but we just got beat up in our building 鈥 we got embarrassed in front of our fans.

"The good thing is we don't play until Friday."

Game 3 is Friday in Minnesota (9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN).

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