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Jokic scores 40, Nuggets shut down Edwards in win over Wolves for series lead

DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic celebrated his third NBA MVP award by scoring 40 points and the Denver Nuggets shut down Anthony Edwards in a 112-97 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night. That put the reigning NBA champions one win away from the Western Conference finals.

Jokic also had 13 assists and seven rebounds with no turnovers as the home team won for the first time this semifinal series. Aaron Gordon added 18 points and 10 boards, and Jamal Murray scored 16.

Schedule: Denver Nuggets face Timberwolves in semifinals

Edwards was held to 18 points on 5-of-15 shooting. Karl Anthony-Towns led the Wolves with 23 points and Rudy Gobert scored 18.

With their first three-game losing streak of the season, the Wolves will have to snap their skid Thursday night at Target Center to force a Game 7 back in Denver.

Jokic, who was presented with his third MVP trophy by commissioner Adam Silver in a pregame ceremony, scored 19 first-half points in leading Denver to a 50-44 lead at the half. He added 16 points in the third quarter when the Nuggets pushed their lead to 14.

Jokic’s dunk with 7:12 left in the fourth gave Denver a 98-80 lead. After the Wolves used a mini-run to pull to 103-92, Jokic nailed a 3-pointer at the shot clock buzzer over a helpless Gobert, who recently won his fourth NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, to make it a 14-point lead with just over 3 minutes left.

After the Wolves inched ahead 55-53 early in the third quarter, Jokic assisted on four consecutive baskets during Denver’s 11-2 response for a 64-57 lead that would stand the rest of the way.

Edwards averaged 33.3 points in the first four games of the series and the Wolves were looking for somebody else to step up. Although KAT did just that, Edwards missed eight of his first nine shots, had five points at halftime and didn’t find his shooting touch until the game had gotten away from the Timberwolves.

Timberwolves veteran point guard Mike Conley was scratched just before tipoff with a sore right Achilles. He was injured when he missed a 3-pointer on the Wolves’ final possession in their loss on Sunday. Nickeil Alexander-Walker started in his spot and had 14 points and five assists.

Minnesota coach Chris Finch said before the game that the Wolves were looking to add to their rotation whether or not Conley played and he found some time for Monte Morris after Denver’s bench outplayed the Wolves’ reserves in Minneapolis. Morris scored six points.

In his pre-game comments, Finch also expressed dismay at the NBA fining Rudy Gobert $75,000 for making a money gesture following a call by referee Scott Foster in Game 4.

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