Nikola Jokic notched the seventh triple-double of his playoff career with 20 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists for the Denver Nuggets, who beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 120-108 to take a 3-0 lead in the first round of the NBA playoff series. Friday night.

Michael Porter Jr. had 25 points and nine rebounds, and Jamal Murray added 18 points and nine assists as Denver endured another strong performance from Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards to send a rowdy crowd of white-shirt-clad fans home after another frustrating loss. postseason.

Game 4 is here on Sunday night.

Edwards scored 36 points to bring his series total to 95, Karl-Anthony Towns had 27 points after totaling just 21 points in the first two games and Rudy Gobert had 18 points and 10 rebounds for Wolves, but there was a slip here. defensive and hasty attack. One 3-pointer was enough to seal his fate against an entire Nuggets team that is finally healthy enough to make it to the NBA Finals.

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Nikola Jokic, #15 of the Denver Nuggets, looks on during the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves during Game 3 of Round 1 of the 2023 NBA Playoffs on April 21, 2023, at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Bruce Brown had 12 points to lead Denver’s 29-10 lead in bench points, and the Nuggets shot a hard-to-beat 57% from the field.

With the Nuggets holding their first 2-0 lead in nine playoff series under Mike Malone, the coach’s message was to keep it full throttle and not give the underdog Wolves any more confidence.

The best team in the Western Conference delivered by shooting like its top seed depended on it and out-rebounding the Wolves on almost every long rebound. The Nuggets went on two 9-0 runs in the first half and could hardly do anything wrong, starting the second quarter hitting 12 of their first 16 shots and building a 13-point lead.

Then Edwards, who scored a franchise-record 41 points in Game 2 in the playoffs, brought the Wolves back with the kind of starburst only players like him are capable of.

After a lazy pass from Towns was intercepted by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Edwards was quick to block and quickly converted a Euro-step layup at the other end. Wolves kept up the momentum and cut the lead to 61-55 just before halftime. They were still six points behind at the end of the third quarter.

Nuggets celebrate basket

Denver Nuggets forward Bruce Brown (11) celebrates after making a basket against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the second half of Game 3 of an NBA basketball first round playoff series on Friday, April 21, 2023 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

KNICKS SILENCE CAVALIERS AT MSG TO TAKE SERIES LEADER 2-1

The Wolves won their play-in game here a week ago thanks to Towns and Gobert, the unlikely pairing they created when former Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly ran away for the same job in Minnesota and made a highly successful trade for Goberto.

The Wolves attacked the basket better than they had in the first two games, and Towns committed Jokic’s fourth foul with 5:51 left in the third quarter, but the 7-foot Serb is too skilled — and too heavy — to get hit from behind. that way.

The reigning two-time NBA MVP led the league with 29 triple-doubles during the regular season.

Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) dribbles to the basket against Minnesota Timberwolves guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker during the first half of Game 3 of a first round basketball playoff series in the NBA on Friday, April 21, 2023 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

SCREENSHOT

When Wolves coach Chris Finch was asked before the game about Jokic’s impact on making room for Murray and his shot, he subtly criticized how he feels Jokic, who has 14 fouls in the series, is refereed.

«He does a really good job filtering, and moving and filtering at the same time, that kind of thing,» Finch said in his best deadpan expression.

In his introductory news conference last summer, Gobert played down Finch’s allegations about his illegal projection with Utah.

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TIPS

Nuggets: Caldwell-Pope scored 11 of his 14 points in the second quarter on 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point range. Murray, who was 10-for-20 from deep in the first two games, went 1-for-6.

Timberwolves: Towns, who shot 8-for-27 from the field in the first two games, was 10-for-17. He is 5-for-16 from 3-point range in the series. Nickeil Alexander-Walker was back in the starting lineup. He scored eight points in 22 minutes.