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Nuggets look like champions behind 40-points from Jokic, take 3-2 series lead on Timberwolves

Jokic's 'perfect game' came at right time for DEN
Dan Patrick describes how Nikola Jokic came as close as possible to playing a "perfect game" for the Nuggets against the Timberwolves in Game 5, accounting for 70 of Denver's points when combining his points and assists.

That is what championship team looks like.

That is what a basketball magician and MVP plays like.

Two games into this series, the Nuggets had their basketball mortality challenged by the Minnesota Timberwolves. The young guns of the West raced out to a 2-0 series lead behind a pressure defense and too much Anthony Edwards. Denver responded like a champion, winning the next two games on the road to even the series.

Then the Nuggets came home and looked even better. Denver got a masterclass 40 points from Nikola Jokic — who got his third MVP trophy from Adam Silver before the game — and pulled away in the second half, leaving the Timberwolves in their wake.

The Nuggets won 112-97 Tuesday night to take a 3-2 series lead. Game 6 is back in Minnesota on Thursday.

“He had an MVP best player in the world performance,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said of Jokic, who also finished with 13 assists, seven rebounds and no turnovers.

As always with the Nuggets, Jokic’s strong play opened things up for others. Aaron Gordon scored 18, while Ketavious Caldwell-Pope had 16 on 6-of-8 shooting.

Edward did a good job defensively on Jamal Murray much of the night, but the Nuggets defense also did a good job on Edwards who finished with 18 points on 5-of-15 shooting.

The first half stayed relatively close. Then in the third quarter, Jokic just was not fair. Chris Finch tried the Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert on the MVP, and it didn’t matter. Jokic finished the quarter with 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting plus four assists, and there is nothing anyone could do to stop him.

The Timberwolves were without veteran starting point guard Mike Conley was out for this game with a sore right Achilles and Minnesota missed his steady hand when things got a little crazy.