The Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves got their game started early with neither team in any rush to play strong defense. The Nuggets had gotten out to a 19-14 lead a little over halfway through the first quarter. The Timberwolves came storming back to make it a 21-20 game, and the Nuggets promptly answered with a 6-0 run over the next 90 seconds to keep their distance. Nikola Jokic was on fire early on with 13 of the team’s first 30 points in less than 10 minutes on the floor. The Nuggets’ second unit struggled offensively to end the quarter as they went scoreless in the final two minutes, and the Timberwolves had made it a 30-27 game heading into the second quarter.
To start the second period, both teams were trading baskets as neither group could get any clear edge. The Nuggets had a couple of scoreless possessions, and the Timberwolves took advantage by gaining their first lead of the game when they went up 35-34. Midway through the quarter, the majority of the starters had entered the game for both teams, and they proceeded to trade baskets over the next few minutes as they traded the lead back and forth. Jokic was called for his third foul over a two-minute span, and the Timberwolves were in the midst of a 9-0 run that had stretched their lead to 52-46. Jamal Murray was putting the team on his back to end the quarter by running the offense, and he had the team within one. After lighting it up in the first quarter, Denver struggled in the second, and they were trailing at the half 60-55.
The Nuggets picked up the third quarter where they left off in the first half. They were letting Minnesota build their lead, and they were consistently struggling to fight back. At the end of the third quarter, they were just 3-of-16 from 3-point range compared to 9-of-22 from downtown for the Timberwolves. Jokic, Murray and Brown were the only Nuggets in double figures while Minnesota had all five starters and six total players in double digits. Denver needed to lock in during the final period to overcome their 95-88 deficit.
The Nuggets started the fourth quarter hot, but they were being matched on the other end by Minnesota each time down the floor. There was a prolonged stretch where Denver was working their way back into the game, and they at one point got to within two. In the middle minutes of the period, each time Denver would score, the Timberwolves would score right back. With 2:05 remaining in the game, Murray drilled his second triple of the night to tie the game at 118. With 55.9 remaining, Murray scored again to give Denver their first lead since the four-minute mark of the second quarter. Jokic found Aaron Gordon for a dunk underneath with under 10 seconds remaining to make it a four-point game, and they would go on to win 122-118 thanks to a late flurry from Murray.
Points: Nikola Jokic - 31
Assists: Jokic - 13
Rebounds: Jokic - 11
Player of the Game: Jamal Murray - 28 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds, 10-of-18 field goal, 2-of-5 3-point, 6-of-6 free throw