Timberwolves vs. Nuggets: Game 7 Updates

The Timberwolves and Nuggets play a decisive Game 7 of the NBA Western Conference semifinal series tonight in Denver. Staff writer Chris Hine provides live updates from the ballpark:

Score Updates and Game Boxscore: Tap Here

8:05 p.m.: Jamaal Murray has the Nuckets in control at halftime

The Wolves offense — and Anthony Edwards — lost for a good chunk of the first half, and they trailed the Nuggets 53-38 at halftime.

It was Wolves’ lowest scoring first half of the season.

Edwards was unable to get Wolves going offensively and as a result struggled to get their scores going. He started the game 1-for-7 and had just four points at halftime. Denver sent double teams too often to get the ball out of its hands, and the Wolves couldn’t take advantage of what they did in Game 6.

Denver scored 16 unanswered points in the first and opening minutes of the second quarter to take a 32-19 lead.

Jamal Murray finished the half with 22 points for the Nuggets. Nikola Jokic already has 15 rebounds for Denver.

The Wolves took Edwards out of the game and had one of their best offenses when he went cold. Jaden McDaniels scored five points in a 10-2 run that pulled the Wolves within 34-29. But the Nuggets punched right back with six quick points to extend the lead back to double digits.

The Wolves’ tendency to let their power get to their heads began to creep into the quarter as McDaniels picked up his third foul, turning Denver into a bonus.

Denver’s defense surrounded the Wolves in the half and forced the Wolves to shoot 12-of-38 (32%).

Their best offensive player in the half was Karl-Anthony Towns, who had 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting. As Denver opened up a 48-33 lead, Downs scored five straight points to force a Denver timeout with 2:13 to play.

The Wolves’ supporting cast outside of McDaniels (10 points) had a rough night. Mike Conley was 1-for-7, Nikhil Alexander-Walker was 5-for-5 and Rudy Kobert was 0-for-3.

7:29 p.m.: Both teams start cold, Nuggets finish hot

If there’s a barometer for how this series has gone so far, it’s the play of Denver guard Jamaal Murray. When Murray plays well, the Nuggets win. When he doesn’t, the Wolves win.

Murray came into the game with 13 points in the first quarter of Game 7 as Denver led 24-19 after one.

Either through excitement, nerves, nervousness or all of the above, both teams were unable to put the ball in the basket to open the night as they opened 2-for-9.

The Wolves had some stellar defensive play in the early minutes as both Rudy Gobert and Jaden McDaniels had big blocks at the rim; Michael Porter Jr.’s Gobert and Aaron Gordon’s McDaniels after Porter blocked him at the other end.

The Wolves held the Nuckets to just five points in the first six minutes to take a 12-5 lead.

But Denver responded with the next seven points to tie the score. After a 1-for-4 start, Murray hit four of his next six shots and two of his next three shots to give Denver the lead, including a pair of threes late in the quarter.

Nikola Jokic had six points, five rebounds and four assists.

The Wolves spread their scoring around as Anthony Edwards, with a double team, got off to slow shooting (1-for-5). Karl-Anthony Towns got out of foul trouble with just one point and scored six points.

5:47 p.m.: “We’re a great team. We’re going up against another great team.”

Game 7 is here and one team has already advanced to the conference finals, with Indiana sweeping the Knicks at Madison Square Garden for the first time ever and winning all series.

The Wolves know they can win in the ballpark, having done so in two of three games in Denver before Sunday.

But Anthony Edwards said those games didn’t matter after Saturday’s practice.

“It’s behind us. It doesn’t give us any hope,” Edwards said. “I think we’re confident because we’re a better team. We’re going against another better team and we feel like we’re a better team. That’s the confidence we need. The last two games didn’t mean anything.”

Coach Chris Finch’s pregame media availability tonight was short — not much to ask going into Game 7 — but he was asked if the season would be a success if the Wolves lost Game 7.

“I would say it’s another step forward,” Finch said. “We’re trying to build something here. It’s good to evaluate those things when it’s all said and done, but we’ve had a great season. These guys have done a great job of coming together, leaning on an identity and playing for everyone else, but we don’t feel like our work is done, so We are excited to win tonight.

Point guard Mike Conley (right soleus strain) was listed as questionable, but he started.

And … a crew led by Scott Foster

Wolves center Rudy Kobert was fined once during the regular season, then earlier in the series, for rubbing his fingers together on a “money sign” after calls by referee Scott Foster.

Foster is tonight’s emcee, with David Guthrie and Curtis Blair as the other referees. The Wolves are 3-1 in games with that crew this postseason.

Gobert was fined $75,000 after the Game 4 loss in Denver

After the second penalty, “Individually, collectively, whatever happens, we need to focus on what we can control, and certainly control our emotions, control the way we react to adversity. Court.”

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