Advertisement

McDaniels golden in Game 2 win for Wolves

The Timberwolves are headed to Phoenix with a 2-0 series lead, and they leaned on No. 3 to get there.

The best player on the floor Tuesday night at Target Center was Wolves forward Jaden McDaniels, who scored a game-high 25 points and played terrific defense on Suns star Kevin Durant.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven, first-round playoff series went to the Wolves: 105-93. The Wolves are two victories away from winning a playoff series for the first time in 20 years.

McDaniels was 10-for-17 shooting — including 2-for-4 on threes — and posted eight rebounds and three assists. In his seventh career playoff game — McDaniels missed last season's playoff series vs. Denver after punching a wall in frustration in the final regular-season game and breaking his hand — he came up one point shy of his career-high.

Was Tuesday the best night of his career?

"It's close — for sure, yeah," McDaniels said afterward. "Twenty-five points in a playoff game — there's nothing more I could ask for."

Sign up for our Timberwolves Update newsletter

McDaniels was a jolt in a sleepy second quarter, scoring nine to bring the Wolves out of a snooze. Then in the fourth, McDaniels scored consecutive baskets that got the sellout crowd roaring again and pushed the Wolves' lead to 93-76 with 7 minutes, 51 seconds left in the game. And for good measure, his three-point shot from the left quarter gave the Wolves a 102-83 lead with 4:41 left. It sent a few fans for the aisles.

It was an entertaining night for McDaniels. He had a scuffle with Phoenix star Devin Booker while defending him. Both engaged in a pushing match that had security scurrying out onto the floor, just in case. After an official review, both were given fouls, and McDaniels drew a technical foul as well.

McDaniels has defended both Booker and Durant so far in this still-young series. He has done so with his length and what Wolves coach Chris Finch calls a "really high care factor."

"He competes on every single play," Finch said before Tuesday's game. "Sometimes we have to remind him the game is not 100 single battles. That's how he approaches it. He wants to win every single one. You can see how it bothers him when somebody gets the best of him. Of course, he has learned more and more of these guys and their individual tendencies. He doesn't even give up on a play. He's all the things you want in a point-of-attack defender."

And he's built like one with his 6-9 height and long wingspan.

"He's outstanding," Suns coach Frank Vogel said Monday. "His length, his athleticism, his quickness, his speed. He's a great defensive player. We have to make sure we attack him the right away."

Said Durant: "If he gets beat, he can make it up with length."

He did in Tuesday's game.