Timberwolves can't stop Nikola Jokic as Denver Nuggets gain control of series with 112-97 Game 5 victory

Chris Hine, Star Tribune on

Published in Basketball

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.

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