Thursday, May 23, 2024

Cold-Blooded Wolves Smother Nuggets, Seize Commanding 2-0 Lead (g)

HomeSports NewsCold-Blooded Wolves Smother Nuggets, Seize Commanding 2-0 Lead (g)

The young, brash Minnesota Timberwolves aren’t just howling – they’re going for the jugular. In a defensive tour-de-force, the Wolves smashed the defending champion Denver Nuggets 106-80 in Game 2 to seize a commanding 2-0 series lead.

With no Rudy Gobert patrolling the paint, you’d expect Denver’s offensive genius Nikola Jokic to run roughshod. But in a startling reversal, it was Minnesota’s deep, switchable defense that choked out the Nuggets’ attack like a boa constrictor.

“That has to be right up there with the best defensive efforts we’ve had all year,” marveled coach Chris Finch. The numbers bear it out – a paltry 34.9% shooting for the Nuggets, with 19 cough-ups against the Wolves’ ball-hawking perimeter crew.

While the D was utterly immovable, the young pups Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns showed their full offensive repertoire. The high-flying Edwards was the ringmaster, slashing and bombing his way to 27 points with a kaleidoscope of did-he-just-do-that? plays.

There was the filthy between-the-legs dribble that left Reggie Jackson grasping at air, followed by Edwards pointing and preening over his fallen prey. A cold-blooded second-half triple drew extended Michael Jordan shrugging as Ant backpedaled away. The piƩce de resistance? A wicked driving lay-in while absorbing a foul, which Edwards celebrated by Hulk Hogan-flexing his guns on the deck.

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“If I do something nice, I got to let it be known,” Edwards said with the casual arrogance of a young lion who knows his pride’s strengths.

His alpha male running mate Towns was locked-in too. The burly big man bullied Denver for 27 points and 12 boards, punctuating matters with a couple of defiant stuff-blocks. When asked about Edwards’ showmanship, Towns unleashed a sly grin: “When Ant is out there talking his shit, I know we’re in for a good night.”

Speaking of nights to forget – good luck to Nuggets stars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray trying to purge this stinker from their memoires. The reigning Finals MVP, Jokic, mustered just 16 points on 5-13 shooting while Murray had the lid completely clamped, scoring 8 paltry points on 3-18 from the field with 4 turnovers.

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At one point, Murray angrily fired a heating pad onto the court, drawing admission from referee Marc Davis that he should have been T’d up for the outburst. If the unflappable Jokic is losing his cool, just how discombobulated are these Nuggets?

When the series shifts to raucous Minneapolis for Game 3 on Friday, the Wolves have a chance to plant their footprints squarely on the throats of the defending champs. Minnesota will be further reinforced by the return of Defensive Player of the Year candidate Rudy Gobert, who missed Game 2 for the birth of his first child.

As Towns acknowledged, being up 2-0 is an “extremely honored and blessed” position. But he also sounded the humility alarm: “We understand…it could be very bad if we don’t take care of business on our homestand.”

For a franchise that hasn’t reached the conference finals since 2004, the Wolves are now just two wins from punching their long-awaited ticket. Having the young core of Towns and Edwards finally flourish on the biggest stage is enough to spark frenzied excitement in the Twin Cities.

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But closing out this grizzled Nuggets core won’t be easy. As Denver showed in last year’s playoff run, they have the chemistry, talent and unshakable poise to pull off the most improbable of revivals. Catch them slipping for a split-second, and Jokic & Co. will eagerly seize the opening.

For now though, it’s the young, snarling Timberwolves baring their fangs and seizing control of this series. With their devastating defensive clampdown and nightmarish offensive duo, they’ve landed some hellacious opening blows.

Just how bloody will this fight get? Buckle up, Minneapolis – the reigning champs are already on the ropes. But dismissing their pride’s heart would be a fatal mistake for these upstarts wolves.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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