Timberwolves dominate Nuggets, take control of series

Tap here for play-by-play and in-game boxscore

The Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets meet tonight in Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference semifinal playoff series. The Wolves won the opener on Saturday night. Staff writer Chris Hine provides live updates from Ball Arena:

11:26 p.m.: It's over, and it was a rout. Wolves win 106-80.

The Timberwolves entered Monday's game without Rudy Gobert, their defensive anchor. The likely NBA Defensive Player of the Year and the team's coaching staff have tried to install consistency, effort and attention to detail in the team's defense ever since his arrival in Minnesota.

His teammates did him proud with a stifling defensive effort in a 106-80 win over the Nuggets.

The Wolves now have a 2-0 series lead over the defending champions with Game 3 on Friday at Target Center.

The defense the Wolves played in the first half was the stuff coaches could use in instruction films at all levels all over the country. Those that think the NBA doesn't have defense should watch a replay of Monday's game.

The Wolves were relentless, suffocating and physical. They made the Nuggets miserable, particularly Jamal Murray, who was so frustrated that he was caught on camera throwing an object onto the floor during live action in the second quarter. Murray, who has been playing through an injured left calf, finished with eight points on 3-for-18 shooting.

The Wolves won the second quarter 33-15 and had a 61-35 lead at the half. That 26-point halftime lead was the largest halftime lead in a road game against a defending champion since Cleveland over the Bulls in 1992.

Much like Game 2 of the Phoenix series, the Wolves took an opponent who was confident it could make adjustments after a Game 1 loss and cast serious doubt in their ability to win the series. The Wolves are now 6-0 in the postseason.

Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns provided the scoring with Towns getting off to a 7-for-8 start on his way to 27 points. Towns added 12 rebounds. Edwards revved his motor in the second quarter and finished with 27 points and seven assists.

The Wolves also got scoring from their bench with 14 points each for Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Naz Reid. Alexander-Walker also had three blocks while Reid had four.

Denver center Nikola Jokic finished with 16 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists.

At one point, after an Edwards layup in the fourth quarter, Wolves fans in the building began chanting "MVP" as Denver fans made their way to the exits. When coach Chris Finch and assistant Micah Nori pulled the starters late in the fourth quarter, the team got to celebrate with a section of Wolves fans behind their bench, and their cheers echoed through an emptying Ball Arena.

"Wolves in four," they chanted.

Monte Morris of the Wolves left the game because of a sprained finger and Denver's Reggie Jackson departed because of a leg injury.

10:52: Denver "cuts" the Wolves lead to 22 points after three

The Timberwolves led by as much as 32 but they allowed Denver a sliver of life at the end of the third quarter ... and still led 82-60 entering the fourth.

Denver closed the quarter on a 14-4 run.

The Wolves got into some foul trouble when Jaden McDaniels picked up his fourth early in the quarter. But Nickeil Alexander-Walker came in and helped limit Jamal Murray, who tried to get going in the third.

But Murray was 3-for-15 with four turnovers through three quarters.

The Wolves missed a lot of looks in the third and were just 9-for-24 from the field in the third.

Karl-Anthony Towns has 22 and Anthony Edwards 20 for the Wolves.

10:04 p.m.: This is zany! Wolves can do no wrong, lead 61-35 at halftime

The Timberwolves defense, even without Rudy Gobert, put on a clinic against the Nuggets in the second quarter, and the Wolves lead 61-35 at halftime.

The Wolves have made like miserable for Jamal Murray, who is just 1-for-10 on the night for two points. Denver was just 14-for-43 in the first half with 11 turnovers. Nikola Jokic was 3-for-8 for eight points and seven assists.

Meanwhile, the Wolves are finding looks on the offensive end of the floor with ease. At first, Karl-Anthony Towns got them going early as he scored 20 first-half points, 11 off the bench. Then Anthony Edwards started to assert himself in the second quarter with 12 of his 16 first-half points. Naz Reid hit three threes off the bench for nine points while Nickeil Alexander-Walker added eight points.

The Wolves have mixed up their coverages all half and have not let the Nuggets get going from the perimeter. Denver is 4-for-14 from three-point range.

The crowd has expressed frustration with the officiating many times, as has Murray. Footage also began circulating around the internet of Murray, who was on the bench, throwing a white object onto the floor while play was happening.

9:30 p.m.: Timberwolves lead 28-20 after one quarter

The referees allowed plenty of contact in the first quarter, and the Wolves led 28-20.

They began the night with Karl-Anthony Towns guarding Nikoa Jokic one-on-one and Towns got off to a good start offensively with nine of the Wolves' first 13 points.

The Wolves were ahead 22-17 when Denver called timeout and coach Michael Malone went all the way across the court to yell at referee Marc Davis. Malone had to be separated from Davis and even put a finger in the referee's face without a technical foul.

Aaron Gordon had 13 points in the quarter for the Nuggets but the Wolves held Jokic to just four points and held Jamal Murray scoreless.

Every Wolves player who played in the first quarter had a bucket except for point guard Mike Conley. Monte Morris was the eighth member of the Wolves rotation with Rudy Gobert out.

8:30 p.m.: Kyle Anderson will start in Rudy Gobert's place

The big story of the afternoon was that Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert, who is expected to named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year tomorrow, will miss tonight's game.

You can read that story here.

Gobert was in the Twin Cities for the birth of his child and the team thought about getting him back to Ball Arena for Game 2. There were flight disruptions because of the wind in Colorado, and the return never materialized.

Kyle Anderson will start in place of Gobert alongside Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels and point guard Mike Conley.

The Nuggets have to hope the absence of Gobert will help star center Nikola Jokic avoid double teams. Jokic is expected to win his third NBA MVP award on Wednesday.