DENVER -- With Defensive Player of the Year front-runner Rudy Gobert unavailable and the defending champion Denver Nuggets needing a win to even their Western Conference semifinals series, the Minnesota Timberwolves put on a masterful defensive performance in a 106-80 Game 2 victory.

"We've had some really, really good defensive efforts this year, but that has to be right up there with the best of them," Minnesota coach Chris Finch said. "On the ball, off the ball, the physicality, the execution of the game plan. ... Just really locked in on defense."
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If holding Denver to just 34.9% shooting as a team with forceful defensive rotations and forcing 19 turnovers with a suffocating perimeter presence was Minnesota's substance Monday, Anthony Edwards' 27 points and 7 assists coming in highlight-reel fashion was the team's style.

There was the time in the first half when the 22-year-old Wolves guard dribbled between his legs to keep the Nuggets' Reggie Jackson from stealing the ball, which caused Jackson to fall to his knees -- and prompted Edwards to point at the fallen Denver guard for everyone to see what he just did to him.

Then in the second half, there was the 3-pointer he hit with 6:58 to go that he punctuated with a Michael Jordan-esque shrug as he backpedaled down the court with his team ahead by, appropriately enough, 23 points.


The Wolves could be in for an even greater time when the series shifts to the Target Center in Minneapolis for Friday's Game 3 in the biggest home game in 20 years.

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