Defending NBA champs Nuggets mauled by Timberwolves
The defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets crashed to their first defeat of the season in an upset 110-89 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, while Boston extended their unbeaten start with a brutal thrashing of Indiana.
Denver began the season in imperious form, building to a 4-0 start, but were stopped in their tracks after a dominant performance from the Timberwolves at Minneapolis’s Target Center.
Anthony Edwards led the Minnesota scoring with 24 points while Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 21 in a wire-to-wire victory for the Timberwolves, who led by 19 points at half-time.
Rudy Gobert delivered a crucial defensive performance with 12 rebounds and two blocks to help shut down Denver’s free-scoring offense.
Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic led the Denver scorers with 25 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.
“It just shows what we’re capable of, honestly,” Minnesota’s Mike Conley said after the win. “We know we can be a great team — we’ve got to put it together for four quarters.
“Tonight we beat a really good team and were able to stick with the easy things and let that just bring us home,” added Conley, who finished with 17 points.
While Denver kissed goodbye to their unbeaten record, there were no such problems for the Celtics, who romped to a 155-104 blowout over the Pacers to improve to 4-0 at the top of the Eastern Conference.
The points total was the second-highest ever in Celtics history, behind the 173 scored in a win over Minneapolis in 1959.
Jayson Tatum led Boston with 30 points and 12 rebounds, with Derrick White adding 18 points and Sam Hauser 17 from five three-pointers.
‘Sense of purpose’
The game was over as a contest well before the finish, allowing Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla to rest his starters for the entirety of the fourth quarter.
Mazzulla meanwhile was left pleased with the contribution of his bench, who put up 46 points in the fourth quarter to put the seal on the drubbing.
“I just thought we played with more of a sense of purpose,” Mazzulla said. “They managed the game that way.
“There’s three things you can do to put yourself in a better position — defend without fouling, limit them to one shot, not give up the ball in transition.
“They were the three things that they did in this game.”
In other games on Wednesday, the Milwaukee Bucks fell to 2-2 for the season after slumping to a 130-111 defeat on the road in Toronto.
Pascal Siakam scored 26 points in a balanced offensive effort for the Raptors, who saw all five starters finish in double figures.
German international Dennis Schroder had 24 points and Scottie Barnes added 21 as Toronto outgunned the Bucks’ twin-pronged line-up led by Giannis Antetokounmpo and new signing Damian Lillard.
Antetokounmpo was restricted to 16 points while Lillard finished with 15 as the Raptors cruised to their second win of the season against a Bucks team led by their former assistant coach Adrian Griffin.
In Dallas, meanwhile, the Mavericks maintained their perfect start to the season to improve to 3-0 with a 114-105 defeat of the Chicago Bulls.
Grant Williams had 25 points, Tim Hardaway Jr. posted 24 points while Luka Doncic added 18 points with 10 assists as Dallas overturned a five-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to close out victory.
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