Minnesota wins series 4-1 (Game 3 of 5)

Minnesota wins series 4-1

Game 1: Sunday, April 18th
Game 2: Wednesday, April 21st
Game 3: Saturday, April 24th
Game 4: Tuesday, April 27th
Game 5: Friday, April 30th

Timberwolves 86

(58-24, 27-14 away)

Nuggets 107

(43-39, 29-12 home)

    Coverage: FSRM

    7:30 PM ET, April 24, 2004

    Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

    1 2 3 4 T
    MIN 18 23 25 2086
    DEN 30 24 31 22107

    Top Performers

    Min: K. Garnett 24 Pts, 11 Reb, 8 Ast, 1 Blk

    Den: C. Anthony 24 Pts, 10 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl

    Carmelo's 24 and 10 pace rout

    DENVER (AP) -- The Denver Nuggets rewarded their fans for their patience.

    The Nuggets controlled the lane, the boards and the tempo in Game 3 of their best-of-seven playoff series, leading from start to finish for a 107-86 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.

    Playing at home in the postseason for the first time in nine years, the Nuggets earned their first home playoff victory in a decade and avoided going down 3-0 in the series.

    Carmelo Anthony had 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets, and Marcus Camby had 16 rebounds to lead Denver's 53-36 edge on the boards.

    The Nuggets outscored Minnesota 60-26 in the paint, 18-8 on second chance points and 15-10 on the break.

    "They manhandled us," said Minnesota coach Flip Saunders, whose team won the first two games of the series by 14 points each. "They rebounded better than us. They did everything better than us."

    Anthony's 24 points were seven more than he averaged in the first two games.

    "The guy is only 19 years old. He is going to make mistakes and is trying to find what works for him," Camby said. "I think he responded well tonight. He came out aggressive, which I was telling him all year -- that he needs to stay aggressive with his shots."

    The Nuggets, who have won their last eight home games and broke Minnesota's 11-game winning streak, can even the series Tuesday in Denver.

    Denver's previous home playoff game was May 2, 1995, a 99-95 loss to San Antonio.

    The crowd of 19,713 -- the Nuggets' fifth-largest ever -- showed its love loudly.

    "Our fans have been absolutely wonderful," Denver coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "We knew that our fans would be there for us, and we talked about us being there for our fans."

    Latrell Sprewell scored 25 points and Kevin Garnett added 24 for the Timberwolves, who fell behind by 17 points early in the game and only mounted one serious threat after that.

    Garnett added 11 rebounds, but that was far fewer than the 21 he had averaged in the first two games of the series.

    Starting center Ervin Johnson had seven rebounds but didn't score, and backup Michael Olowokandi -- who picked up his fifth foul late in the third quarter -- had two points and just one rebound in 11 minutes.

    Sprewell's 3-pointer got the Timberwolves within 67-59 with just under 6{ minutes left in the third quarter, but Minnesota didn't get another field goal until Garnett hit a layup with 10:53 to go in the game.

    By then, it was too late.

    Andre Miller hit two free throws after Sprewell's 3, starting an 11-0 Nuggets run -- capped by Voshon Lenard's 3-pointer from the corner -- that made it 78-59 with 3:12 to go in the period.

    After that, The Timberwolves never got closer than 15.

    "It's like we didn't do anything right tonight. We didn't contain anybody," Garnett said. "We really depended upon our defense as of late, and if felt like we were out of sync or something."

    Denver never trailed, thanks to 61 percent (11-for-18) shooting in the first quarter. The Timberwolves missed 14 of their first 17 shots.

    But the Nuggets, who went on an 11-0 run in the first period and led 23-6 with just over 3{ minutes left, couldn't maintain that pace.

    They were just 6-for-23 from the field in the second quarter and led 54-41 at the half.

    Nene finished with 14 points on 7-for-8 shooting for Denver, after going 4-for-14 from the field in the first two games. Camby had 12 points and Earl Boykins finished with 10.

    Wally Szczerbiak had 11 points for the Timberwolves, who are seeking their first playoff series win in eight tries. Sam Cassell added 10 points for Minnesota.

    Before Saturday night, the Nuggets hadn't won in the postseason since beating Utah 94-91 on May 19, 1994, in their former home, McNichols Arena. That was in the Western Conference semifinals, also the last time Denver made it out of the first round.

    Game notes

    Two of the Nuggets' three Hall of Famers, David Thompson and Alex English, attended Saturday night's game. The third, former player and coach Dan Issel, was invited but could not attend because of a scheduling conflict. ... Cleveland's LeBron James, the NBA rookie of the year, was also at the game to support his friend Anthony. Rocky, the Nuggets' mascot, gave James a replica of Anthony's No. 15 jersey. ... Minnesota held the Nuggets to an average of 86.5 points in the first two games but trailed 85-66 after three quarters Saturday night.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 86 107
    FGM-FGA 32-77 (.416) 45-95 (.474)
    3PM-3PA 8-20 (.400) 5-11 (.455)
    FTM-FTA 14-21 (.667) 12-16 (.750)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 7-36 20-53
    Assists 21 29
    Turnovers 16 12
    Steals 5 7
    Blocks 8 3
    Fast Break Points 4 6
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (1/0) 22 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    Kevin Garnett Garnett
    Points: 24
    Reb: 11
    Ast: 8
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 1
    Carmelo Anthony Anthony
    Points: 24
    Reb: 10
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0