DENVER (AP) – Jamal Murray scored 40 points and Michael Porter Jr. had 13 of his 16 in the fourth quarter, powering the Denver Nuggets past the Minnesota Timberwolves 122-113 on Wednesday night for a 2-0 lead in the NBA playoff series.

Nikola Jokic added 27 points, nine assists and nine rebounds for the Nuggets, who blew an early 21-point lead and trailed 89-87 heading into the fourth quarter.

Anthony Edwards had 41 points for the Wolves, who shot a sizzling 81% in the third quarter to erase a 64-59 halftime deficit.

Minnesota had shot just 39% in the first half, just slightly better than it did in a 29-point loss in the series opener Sunday night.

“They shot 80% in the third quarter – 80%!”, Denver coach Michael Malone fumed on TNT after watching the Timberwolves make 17 of 21 shots. “So, we didn’t play any defense. That’s what happened!”

The series shifts to Minneapolis for Game 3 on Friday night.

The Nuggets recovered during a thrilling fourth quarter that began with Porter scoring eight straight points – on a four-point play, a reverse layup and two free throws – but the Nuggets couldn’t shake the energized Wolves, who clawed back and went ahead 99-98 on an Edwards’ jumper.

Porter replied with a 3-pointer that restored Denver’s lead for good.

Rudy Gobert scored 19 points but was whistled for a technical foul while arguing his fifth foul, a shove in Jokic’s back. It was teammate Kyle Anderson – whom Gobert punched in the Timberwolves’ final regular-season game – who calmed down Gobert.

The Timberwolves promised to be more physical after getting blown out Sunday night but it took until the third quarter for them to really bring the fight to the Nuggets.


Timberwolves: Minnesota was outscored 36-18 in the paint in the first half but ended up down just 56-44 by game’s end. … Karl-Anthony Towns scored 10 points on 3-of-12 shooting. In the series, he has scored 21 points on 8-for-27 shooting. Edwards made 6 of 10 3-pointers, same as Murray.

Nuggets: Denver outscored Minnesota 19-3 on fast breaks in the first half but finished with just a 19-16 advantage. … Murray scored a quick 14 points as the Nuggets hit 10 of their first 15 shots in the first quarter.