Jokic on G3 win: ‘Wolves didn’t want to give life’

Jokic on G3 win: 'Wolves didn't want to give life'

MINNEAPOLIS – After the Denver Nuggets defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 3 of their first-round series on Friday night, their focus turned to doing something that had never been accomplished in franchise history: a playoff sweep.

The Nuggets’ 120-111 win gave them a 3-0 series lead, allowing them to get the job done on Sunday.

“Up 3-0, our mindset right now is — no disrespect to the T-Wolves because this is about us — but we don’t want to go back to Denver,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, who finished with 20 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds for his seventh career triple-double, said Denver didn’t want to take its foot off the gas after taking the first two games of the series at home. He scoffed at the idea that the Nuggets didn’t need to win Game 3, saying it didn’t make sense to him.

“We didn’t want to give them life,” Jokic said. “We wanted to be aggressive. We wanted to punch them first. They needed to react to us. That was our plan. I think we did a good job.”

If Denver wins Game 4, it will be the first sweep in franchise playoff history in a series of any length. This is the second time the Nuggets have gone up 3-0 in a series, dating back to the 2009 conference semifinals against the Dallas Mavericks. They dropped Game 4 in Dallas before bouncing back and ending the series in Game 5.

The Nuggets are one of four franchises without a series sweep in their franchise history, joining the LA Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies and Timberwolves — who are looking to avoid being swept for the first time in a seven-game series.

“We know that a lot of times closing out a series can be the hardest game,” Malone said. “I hope we can find a way. Don’t have the mindset of, ‘Hey, we can just go back and close it out in Denver.’ Our mindset has to be to close it out in Game 4.”

Minnesota started the game aggressively and fed off the energy of the sold-out Target Center crowd to build an early lead. However, by the end of the quarter, Denver had tied the score and controlled the game the rest of the way.

“We knew what we had to do,” Nuggets guard Jamaal Murray said. “They came out aggressively. They came out the way they were supposed to. I think we did a good job of handling the pressure and settling down.”

Michael Porter Jr. led the Nuggets with 25 points and added nine rebounds. Six Nuggets scored in double figures, and the two who didn’t were Christian Braun, who had nine points, and Jeff Green, who had eight.

Porter praised the team’s depth for continuing to play at a high level even when Jokic had to sit.

“I think Aaron [Gordon] And Jeff gives us a very versatile lineup from there that we didn’t see a lot during the regular season, but it works great for us because we can just switch from one to five, and then we just try to get stops and run. , ” Porter said. “The offense looks a little different when Jock isn’t there, but we’re making it work. We’ve just got a lot of friends who can do a lot of different things.”

The Timberwolves put forth a better all-around effort than they did in Games 1 or 2, but it wasn’t enough.

Anthony Edwards finished with 36 points and made more free throws (15) than the Nuggets attempted as a team (13). Karl-Anthony Towns had 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting.

Edwards became just the fourth player in NBA history to score 30 points in consecutive playoff games at age 21 or younger, joining LeBron James, Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant. Edwards has 77 combined points over his last two playoff games, second only to James (83 and 79) in NBA history by players 21 years of age or older.

Veteran guard Mike Conley said Friday’s loss was disappointing. Minnesota made it a one-possession game early in the fourth quarter and cut the lead to five on three occasions in the final six minutes, but never closed the gap.

“Guys played hard,” Conley said. “There were some breakdowns here and there. They really allowed them to get some space down the stretch there. Overall, we relied on a lot of guys to come into the game and give us minutes, and that’s something we’d love to have back. “

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