Read the recap: Wolves have no answer for Jokic, lose Game 5 to Nuggets

For Game 5 play-by-play and in-game boxscore, tap here

The Timberwolves and Nuggets met in Game 5 of their NBA Western Conference semifinal playoff series in Denver on Tuesday night. Star Tribune staff writer Chris Hine filed these updates from Ball Arena:

Midnight: The bell tolls for Timberwolves, who lose by 15 to Denver

Before Game 5, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver presented Denver center Nikola Jokic with his third MVP trophy.

His teammates mobbed him at midcourt as the Wolves looked from their end of the court.

That's essentially what Jokic reduced the Wolves to the rest of the night — witnesses to an all-world performance as Denver defeated the Wolves 112-97 in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead.

The Wolves lost three consecutive games for the first time all season and will be facing elimination at Target Center with Game 6 on Thursday night.

Jokic, in his 40-point, 13-assist, seven-rebound performance Tuesday, showed the gap that can still exist between a team led by a 29-year-old who has all three MVP trophies and a championship ring, and a team led by a 22-year-old in Anthony Edwards. Edwards, the Wolves' All-Star guard, is still trying to traverse the heights Jokic has reached in the league, through multiple years of playoff disappointment of his own.

Edwards, double-teamed and harassed all night, could not find an offensive rhythm all game while Jokic looked like he was conducting an orchestra in the third quarter, when he had 16 points. Edwards finished the night with 18 points on 5-for-15 shooting with nine assists in 44 minutes.

Even as some of Jokic's teammates, like Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., struggled to score, it didn't matter. Jokic picked up the slack by going 15-for-22.

The Wolves looked as if they missed floor general Mike Conley, who was a late scratch because of right Achilles' soreness.

Minnesota cut an 18-point Denver lead to 103-92 with 4:20 to play before Jokic buried a three to end any comeback hopes for the Wolves.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 23 to lead the Wolves. Center Rudy Gobert had 18 points and 11 rebounds, but the league's Defensive Player of the Year struggled to control the MVP.

Aaron Gordon added 18 points and 10 rebounds for Denver.

11:36 p.m.: The MVP is too much for Timberwolves in third quarter

The third quarter was a masterclass performance for Denver center Nikola Jokic, who fiddled with the Wolves all quarter and led the Nuggets to a 88-74 lead entering the fourth.

After the Wolves took an early lead on an 11-3 run, the NBA's Most Valuable Player went back to work, and he made the Wolves look helpless. Jokic had 16 points and four assists during a third quarter that demoralized the Wolves.

Wolves guard Anthony Edwards got to the free-throw line for nine points, but the Wolves defense, so good in the first two games, has been on its heels ever since.

The Wolves opened the third quarter on an 11-3 run as Karl-Anthony Towns got the Wolves going on offense. He scored off his own miss on the first possession, nailed a corner three and then found Rudy Gobert for a dunk to force a Denver timeout with the Wolves ahead 55-53.

But Denver responded with an 11-2 run of its own and restored its lead to 64-57, the largest lead the Nuggets had up to that point. Three misses from Nickeil Alexander-Walker helped fuel the Denver run, which saw Murray hit his first two shots of the half, both at the rim.

Then Jokic went back to work. He was 6-for-7 shooting in the quarter as he continued to have his way with Gobert in the post whenever he was matched on him.

10:46 p.m.: Jokic has 19, Nuggets lead at halftime as Edwards can't find his groove

With Anthony Edwards struggling, the Wolves trail the Nuggets 50-44 at halftime.

The Wolves' All-Star guard could not find a rhythm offensively in the first half as he faced constant attention from Denver's defense, which was able to lock in on him even more with Naz Reid and Karl-Anthony Towns on the bench in foul trouble.

Edwards is 1-for-8 from the field and has only five points.

The Wolves offense has 11 turnovers overall but still the Wolves are down just six.

Nikola Jokic had 19 points and eight assists in the first half for Denver. Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Towns had 11 apiece for the Wolves.

The Wolves changed their rotations to start the second quarter, which is usually the time both Jokic and Edwards rest. While Jokic rested for the Nuggets, Edwards remained on the floor, even after playing the entire first quarter.

Naz Reid got into foul trouble early in the quarter as he picked up his third, including two on two straight possessions. Edwards eventually checked out, rested a total of 2:09 and the Wolves didn't score while he was out. Towns eventually joined him on the bench with three.

Jamal Murray is off to a slow start for Denver, as he went 2-for-8 for four points in the first half.

10:07 p.m.: Nuggets lead by two after one as KAT shakes off injury

The Wolves entered the night without point guard Mike Conley, and in the first quarter of Game 5, they got another injury scare involving Karl-Anthony Towns as they trail 28-26 after one quarter.

Towns came up limping in the first quarter of Game 5 with 2 minutes, 14 seconds left in the quarter a few minutes after he appeared to injure himself on a foul. Nuggets forward Justin Holiday tripped Towns earlier in the quarter and Towns hit his knee on Holiday going down, then stayed on the floor in pain for a few moments. He got up and remained in the game, but as play continued, Towns had a noticeable limp as he tried to move up and down the floor.

When there was a timeout on the floor, Towns headed directly to the tunnel and was pedaling on an exercise bike as play resumed. But Towns made his way back into the game before the quarter ended. He finished with seven points in the quarter.

The Wolves used an early challenge to erase a Jaden McDaniels foul on a Michael Porter Jr. three-point attempt just a few minutes into the game. The challenge was successful, but left the Wolves with just one challenge the rest of the night.

Denver had to go into its bench earlier than it might like when Aaron Gordon picked up a pair of fouls in the first 3:41, and Holiday replaced Gordon.

That activated Nikola Jokic, who had 12 points, into attack mode. He went right at Rudy Gobert, who switched from Gordon onto him, and Jokic scored nine points in the next six possessions. Neither team led by more than four points in the first.

8:42 p.m.: Timberwolves guard Mike Conley is out

Timberwolves guard Mike Conley was a game-time decision in Game 5 because of right Achilles' soreness, coach Chris Finch said.

As it turns out, the veteran point guard will not play. Nickeil Alexander-Walker will start in his spot.

Conley suffered the injury on one of the last plays of Game 4 when attempting a three-pointer.

Finch said the Wolves were looking to add to their rotation whether or not Conley plays and find some time for either Monte Morris or Jordan McLaughlin. Denver's bench outplayed Minnesota's in Game 4 when depth was perceived to be a Wolves strength coming into the series.

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

Finch said the team was disappointed Gobert made the "money sign" by rubbing his fingers together after he was whistled for an offensive foul by referee Scott Foster, but complained about the league's seeming inconsistent discipline of Gobert vs. Nuggets guard Jamal Murray. In Game 2, Murray made the same gesture and threw a towel and heating pad, the latter of which reached the floor during play. He was fined $100,000 total.

Finch said the team would like to see the "itemized receipt."

"If it's $75,000 for the gesture, then it must be $10,000 for the towel and $15,000 for the heating pad," Finch said. "It's a little bit of a head scratcher to us."