Nuggets rally from 15 down, Timberwolves out in thriller behind Nikola Jokic triple-double

The Denver Nuggets advance to the second round. (AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The Minnesota Timberwolves weren’t ready for their season to end on Tuesday.

The Denver Nuggets don’t care.

After pulling off a dramatic Game 4 victory in overtime to extend the streak, the Timberwolves opened up a 15-point first quarter lead in Game 5. But the top-ranked Nuggets ultimately did what they expected at home.

They responded to an early deficit to take a 48-47 halftime lead, then held off a rally by the Timberwolves for a 112-109 victory to win the series 4-1. Nikola Jokic led the way with his eighth career playoff triple-double. Jamal Murray’s 3-point play on a dish with 28 seconds left helped ice the game.

The Timberwolves had one last chance, the ball and trailing by three with 2.5 seconds left. But Anthony Edwards jumped off the back of the rim for a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded.

The Nuggets win sets up a second-round matchup against the Phoenix Suns, who eliminated the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night. The Timberwolves are looking for their first playoff series win since 2004.

Denver had to fight for this one. Edwards scored eight of Minnesota’s first 13 points as the Timberwolves took an early 27-12 lead. They led 29-22 after the first quarter.

But Jamaal Murray kept the Nuggets close and eventually led a 16-point first half to a one-point halftime edge. He made the highlight reel with an improbable turnaround floater over his head with his back to the basket.

Meanwhile, Michael Porter Jr. failed to even the scoreboard through two quarters. The game was tight after halftime and went into the third quarter tied 77-77. Porter remained scoreless after missing his first seven field goals, but broke the drought with a dunk to extend Denver’s lead to 84-80.

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The Nuggets held the edge for much of the fourth quarter, including a 102-96 lead with 2:58 remaining. But a 6-0 Timberwolves run led to an Edwards layup to tie the game at 102-102. A Karl-Anthony Downs jumper tied the game again at 104-104. But Jokic’s five straight points gave the Nuggets a 109-104 lead with 28 seconds left.

Minnesota kept up the pressure in the final seconds of the game, but never regained the lead or tied the game again.

Jokic finished with 28 points, 17 rebounds, 12 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks for his second triple-double of the series. Murray led the scoring effort with 35 points to go along with 5 assists and 4 rebounds. Porter finished his last three shots with 8 points, 10 rebounds and 2 steals.

Edwards capped a stellar streak that saw him average 31.6 points with a 29-point, 8-rebound, 7-assist effort. But he missed all 6 of his 3-point attempts, including one with an open look to tie the game at the buzzer.

Rudy Gobert had 16 points, 15 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals. Downs had perhaps his best game of the series with 26 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 block. But neither he nor Gobert were on the floor in the final seconds after both players fouled out.

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