Nuggets respond to challenge, show fight as defending champs: ‘Guys answered the bell’

MINNEAPOLIS – AL Denver Nuggets He managed to win an NBA championship last year, largely because he was hungrier than any opponent, knowing those chances were slim.

They cannot replicate this unique feeling, but what almost every hero gains through victory is arrogance, stubbornness, and an unwillingness to give up under adverse circumstances.

Perhaps it was the championship arrogance that began when the Nuggets hopped on the plane to Minneapolis after losing two home games in stunning fashion, where they were forced to sit in disarray for four days, repeatedly being challenged by their coach and doubted by their coach. Basketball world.

It took a while, but the champions finally showed their class on Friday inside the electric and party-filled Goal Centre, firing a decisive shot across the arc. Minnesota Timberwolves with A resounding 117-90 win.

That makes for three wins in this series for road teams in three games, and if that trend continues on Sunday, the Nuggets will have regained home-court advantage. The prospect of that seemed bleak after Monday’s embarrassment, in which a hungry Timberwolves attacked the Nuggets like they were having dinner.

The Nuggets had their best performance of the postseason, in an atmosphere that called for it given that this was the biggest game in Minneapolis in 20 years.

Jamal Murray Maybe it’s a Nuggets challenge photo. He never made and wore an All-Star Game. A few years ago, before he became a hero, he was very angry Kyrie Irving In the ensuing 50-point game, Irving threw the ball into the stands to prevent Murray from getting the game ball.

Challenging basketball as a teenager may be seen as innocent, but when you’re a champion, the visiting crowds want your blood – especially when you’re not suspended. Murray knew he had to respond after he threw a thermal pack that fell to the ground in the second match, causing him to fall Big fine But there is no further disciplinary action.

Murray took on his new lease and gave the Nuggets an extra lifeline, taking four days of rest on his injured calf and using it to his advantage.

He jumped on the floor, got booed from the crowd by Public Enemy and looked like the best version of himself, scoring 24 goals with 5 assists and 4 rebounds. Nikola Jokic He’ll be hoisting the MVP trophy for the third time in front of fans on Tuesday in Game 5, and that’s true, but the Nuggets can’t just rely on him for inspiration and shot-making.

“Maybe that’s the leadership (from Murray), putting pressure on himself, he likes that,” said Jokic, who shook off a slow statistical start to score 24 points with 14 rebounds and nine assists.

Murray, who grew up A wild birds He remembers Vince Carter He gets booed toronto After a sharp trade from the franchise. It was emotional and ugly, but Murray said he cheered for Carter and remembered he had a great game.

It was 39 that day with much lower risk in comparison.

“I like to cherish that moment,” Murray said. “It makes you have to shut down and stay there for your teammates. I accept that challenge. I accept that moment, but maybe I deserve the boos.”

He’s been chased before Nikhil Alexander Walker And Jaden McDaniels Earlier in the series, that’s when Anthony Edwards It wasn’t in his face that Jokic had to deal with Naz Red Shade it on the ground with Rudy Gobert And Carl Anthony Cities To start games.

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, 15, and guard Jamal Murray, 27, clap hands during the second half of Game 3 of their second-round NBA playoff series against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Friday, May 10, 2024, in Minneapolis.  (AP Photo/Abby Barr)Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, 15, and guard Jamal Murray, 27, clap hands during the second half of Game 3 of their second-round NBA playoff series against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Friday, May 10, 2024, in Minneapolis.  (AP Photo/Abby Barr)

Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray were locked up during Game 3. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

They haven’t had to play quietly in their first two games, but the Timberwolves have dictated in each scrimmage that it’s fair to wonder if the Nuggets will fight back, put their feet in the dirt and not move.

That’s why Nuggets coach Michael Malone cut a two-minute video of every speaker, every pundit and analyst claiming the Nuggets were done and going to be swept, and discussed his pitch to his team before they boarded the plane to Minneapolis.

And it wasn’t just the basketball world, the call was coming from inside the house. Malone looks like he can join the fight if he can, will join the fight if he has to, and is already challenging his team to fight.

Heck, he even got into a verbal altercation with a Timberwolves fan on Friday night.

“You’re always testing and discovering human nature, what men are made of,” Malone said. “Every president talks in this country. Saying the series is over. The Nuggets are done. It’s a wrap. They’re toast. Minnesota is a better team. All the big personalities, you know who they are.”

“But I didn’t want to show that because most of the time I don’t care what they say. But I knew that this probably struck a chord deep inside you. … If that doesn’t resonate within you as a competitor, I don’t know what will, so yeah, it did.” The men answered the bell.

the veteran center asked DeAndre Jordan For input, Jordan agreed. It turns out that Jordan put him in a group chat with the team.

Malone wanted to know who still believed and who could play hard when his team was physically challenged. If the Timberwolves have a length and speed advantage, the Nuggets certainly have it in size.

More often than not, Jokic pinned unsuspecting defenders running around screens to make room for Murray and Michael Porter Jrwho had a field day of open shots — leading the Nuggets to shoot 48 percent from 3-point range and 54 percent overall.

The Timberwolves entered Friday’s contest expecting to take the crown, and it’s human nature to know why. Their defense was dominant and fueled their offense in the first two games, but the tables have turned in a big way.

It would be hard for even the most experienced team to withhold the praise, especially after a defensive performance in Game 2 that had observers turning back to the Bad Boys. Pistons Or Michael Jordan Bulls – Teams that dominated opponents physically and made them surrender mentally in big matches.

A tougher whistle made things difficult for the Timberwolves, who found themselves making a fuss over the officials and shifting their focus away from a sleeping giant who had suddenly taken some smelling salts.

“I think our whole energy was right,” Murray said. “That’s the main thing we’re going to miss or hit shots. We’re going to deliver it. They’re going to score on us sometimes. Every time we come out together, we’re locked into ourselves.”

In some ways, this result was expected, but it planted enough doubt in the Timberwolves’ minds that the scales of confidence could be balanced despite Minnesota’s 2-1 lead and a home game on Sunday.

But at least for one night, they got their magic back.

“We’re halfway there,” Malone said. “We have a long way to go.”

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