The Denver Nuggets ultimately lost 114-108 in overtime in Game 4 against the Minnesota Timberwolves, allowing the Timberwolves to stay alive in the series heading back to Denver.

The Nuggets were down 96-84 with less than three minutes left to go in regulation, but two three-pointers from Michael Porter Jr. and one from Jokić nearly put the Nuggets back in front right at the end. Jokić went 1-of-2 at the free throw line with the Nuggets down by one in the final seconds. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope generated a steal on Anthony Edwards on the final possession of the fourth quarter, helping the Nuggets reach overtime.

In the OT period, the Timberwolves outscored the Nuggets 18-12 with Anthony Edwards and Nickeil Alexander-Walker leading the way. Edwards hit the dagger to put the Timberwolves up 112-108 with 11 seconds left, hitting an impressive stepback over Aaron Gordon.

“We missed an opportunity,” shared Jamal Murray postgame.

The Nuggets wanted this series to finish up with a sweep. That they didn’t make that happens stings a little, but it shouldn’t belittle the effort they put forth to get themselves in that position. They nearly won a game tonight that they had no business winning, and now they just have to win the next one on their home floor.

Here are my takeaways from the Nuggets Game 4 matchup with the Timberwolves on Sunday night:

Nikola Jokić wanted to be done with the Timberwolves

Nikola Jokić was fantastic in this one as a scorer, dropping 43 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists, almost willing the Nuggets to a win in a game they really had no business winning. He put together an impressive second half and overtime, scoring over, around, and through both Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns.

“I think he was being very aggressive,” Michael Malone said of Nikola Jokić’s night. “It was great to see him get to the foul line.”

Jokić went 15-of-26 from the field and 5-of-8 from three-point range. He was shooting early and often, setting the tone especially in that third quarter. The Timberwolves struggled to guard him, and it felt like the Nuggets missed an opportunity with him putting up such a performance. Of course, if Jokić goes better than 8-of-12 from the free throw line, there may not have been overtime in the first place. Still, it was an incredible evening from Big Honey.

Nuggets struggle on offense outside of Joker

Jamal Murray struggled to make an impact tonight while being guarded by Alexander-Walker. The Canadian wing played with energy and intensity every single minute that Murray was out there. His sole purpose defensively was to drain Murray’s energy, and Murray struggled tonight, scoring 19 points on 8-of-21 from the field and 2-of-7 from three.

“I’ve seen that before. I’ll see it for the whole playoffs,” Murray said of Alexander-Walker’s fullcourt pressure. “Gotta run up the court faster, let guys know the play a little bit earlier…get some screens in the backcourt.”

“We’ve gotta look to set screens for Jamal a little bit earlier, maybe. In the backcourt, free him up, get him some momentum up the floor,” shared Malone. “Maybe get the ball out of Jamal’s hands so he’s not fighting that for 94 feet every possession, because that can really wear you down.”

The Nuggets only had 21 assists tonight. Jokić had six of them in his normal passing role, while Murray had five. The rest of the team combined for 10, an it’s primarily because the ball wasn’t moving as often as it normally does. The two-man game with Jokić and Murray is usually lethal. Tonight, it was merely good, and that left the door open for the T’Wolves to creep through.

Michael Porter Jr. made his first two three-pointers late in the fourth quarter to get the Nuggets back in the game. Porter didn’t touch the ball a ton down the stretch, nor did anybody else for the most part. If Denver’s going to leave everything up to Jokić and Murray, those guys have to deliver. Jokić did. Murray struggled. It’s okay because the Nuggets were already up 3-0 in the series, but now they have to find a way to counter Minnesota’s ball pressure.

Foul trouble looms

From the beginning, the Nuggets dealt with foul trouble in this game with Nikola Jokić racking up two fouls in the first four minutes. He still played aggressively in the first quarter but struggled, going 3-of-8 with three turnovers in the eight minutes he played. The team bounced back for him in the non-Jokić minutes, but he also picked up a third foul late in the second quarter. Jeff Green and Bruce Brown also dealt with foul trouble of their own, which pushed DeAndre Jordan into the game at the end of the first half.

Foul trouble will almost certainly affect the Nuggets later in the playoffs, even if it didn’t affect them tonight. The Phoenix Suns draw fouls at a high level in pick and roll and isolation situations. The Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors will almost certainly earn the big market whistle. Any team in the East if Denver’s lucky enough to go that far will be an issue for Denver from a fouling perspective. The Nuggets have to get things under control if they want to advance further than they ever have before.

The Timberwolves aren’t going to go away quietly. Anthony Edwards isn’t going to let them. He’s an incredible talent and appears to be made of the right stuff. The Nuggets didn’t do a good enough job against him tonight, and enough Timberwolves role players made threes to outpace the Nuggets in the end.

Game 5 will be difficult for Denver as well, but that doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t handle business. The Nuggets will be ready to defend their homecourt, and Denver’s role players should perform better at home while being cheered by their home crowd.

Whether that’s enough to close out the series remains to be seen, but it’s clear that the Nuggets had a gift-wrapped opportunity tonight to steal Game 4 right at the end. It fell through, and they now have to make it happen on Tuesday night.

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