Timberwolves dominate Nuggets 106-80, bring home 2-0 lead in Western Conference semis

It did not take long for tensions to get high in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets Monday night.

Less than nine minutes, in fact. Anthony Edwards drove the lane for a score, and complained to referee Marc Davis that a foul wasn’t called. Nuggets coach Mike Malone did him one better, charging into the face of Davis and yelling at him before a timeout about the previous possession. Karl-Anthony Towns drove into the chest of Jamal Murray and scored, but no charge was called.

"That's a f*****g charge," Malone yelled in Davis's face. Most nights, that would be a double technical and immediate ejection. In the playoffs? Nothing.

The sequence drew complaints on social media after Edwards was called for a technical in Game 1 for staring down Reggie Jackson.

In the second quarter, Jamal Murray threw a heat pack on the floor from the Nuggets bench during live play, upset over several sequences with the officiating. Play was stopped briefly to warn the bench before it resumed. But again, no technical foul.

"I didn’t actually see it happen but when it was explained to me, the referees didn’t see it either so they’re not able to issue a technical unless they see it. We tried to impress upon them that there probably aren’t many fans in the building that have a heat pack, so it probably had to come from the bench. It’s inexcusable and dangerous," Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said after the game.

"I saw it. I just was more worried about making the lay-up," Karl-Anthony Towns said.

The Timberwolves were without Rudy Gobert Monday night due to personal reasons, but it didn't matter. They smothered the Nuggets defensively, limiting them to 32% shooting in the first half, including 4-of-14 from the perimeter and forcing nine turnovers. They held Denver to just 15 second quarter points and had a 61-35 lead at the break. Minnesota had 11 steals, 12 blocked shots and forced 16 Nuggets' turnovers.

"We’ve had some really, really good defensive efforts this year, but that has to be right up there with the best of them," Finch said. "The goal has always been to put out a team that people like to cheer for, that doesn’t happen unless you play hard and it usually doesn’t happen unless you play defense and share the ball. We’re doing all those things right now."

The Timberwolves completely dominated the Nuggets 106-80, with Anthony Edwards and Towns scoring 27 points each. Edwards hit a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter and followed it with a Michael Jordan-style shrug. He heard "MVP" chants from the crowd as Nuggets fans hit the exits. Naz Reid added 14 points, five rebounds and four blocks off the bench, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker had 14 points in a reserve role.

Minnesota brings home a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, flipping home court advantage with Game 3 at Target Center Friday night. 

"It worked in our favor tonight, that’s all that was. We made shots, they didn’t. That’s the defending champs over there, they’re not going to come out there and play like that again in Game 3," Edwards said. "We’ve got to be ready to take their punch. I say we’re going to punch too, they’re not the only one punching in the fight. I don’t give a damn if we go up 3-0, before Game 4 we’re going to come out punching too. They’ve got to be ready to take our punch, we’ll be ready to take their punch."