Anthony Edwards pours in 43 as Wolves beat Nuggets in Game 1

Naz Reid made clutch plays late in the Timberwolves victory.

The Timberwolves still haven’t lost in these playoffs. 

Anthony Edwards poured in a game-high 43 points and Sixth Man of the Year Naz Reid came up clutch in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter as the Timberwolves beat the Denver Nuggets 106-99 in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series Saturday night in Denver. 

The 43 points were a playoff career high for Edwards.

Edwards hit what was an essentially game-sealing jumper with 1 minute, 36 seconds remaining that put the Wolves up 102-91 in a game that previously saw little separation.

That wasn’t the end of the Nuggets, though, as Nikola Jokic, who tallied 32 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, hit a 3-pointer that cut their deficit to six with just under a minute remaining.

But the 11-point margin proved too much for Denver to overcome.

Edwards made a pair of free throws and a layup in the final minute to officially seal the deal.

With just under six minutes left, Reid hit a 3 off the glass as the shot clock was expiring to put Minnesota up 87-84. Then he threw down a monster putback slam off a missed transition 3 from Edwards. Then he drilled another 3 to put the Wolves up 94-88 with just under five minutes remaining.

Reid finished with 16 points and four rebounds. 

The Nuggets led 44-40 at the half and took a lead as large as seven points in the third quarter, but the Timberwolves made sure they wouldn’t ever gain much separation. Karl-Anthony Towns was a perfect 5 for 5 from the field in the frame and Mike Conley had 11 third-quarter points. 

Edwards hit back-to-back jumpers and Nickeil Alexander-Walker hit a 3-pointer for a 7-0 Wolves run during the quarter as the Wolves eventually found their way to a 73-71 lead by the end of the frame.

Towns finished with 20 points and four rebounds despite battling some foul trouble late, and Conley had 14 points and 10 assists while hitting several much-needed shots in the second half.

Timberwolves coach Chris Finch was on the bench and coaching just three days after undergoing surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon in his right knee during Game 4 of their first-round series against the Phoenix Suns. He was on the second row behind the bench, while assistant coach Micah Nori handled in-game responsibilities such as the huddles. 

The Timberwolves couldn’t have gotten off to a better start, opening the game on an 18-4 run. But the Nuggets quickly showed why they’re the defending champs, going on a 13-0 run of their own and eventually taking a two-point lead by the end of the first quarter of play. 

In the end, Edwards was the best player on the court when the Timberwolves needed it most. And Reid provided a much-needed offensive burst in a game that was neck and neck down the stretch. The Wolves did the hardest thing — and most important thing — they needed to do to win this series: steal a game on Denver’s home court. They’ll have a 1-0 series lead with Game 2 slated for Monday.

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