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Timberwolves take 2-0 lead over Suns behind 25 points and ace defense from Jaden McDaniels

Jaden McDaniels scored 25 points for a career playoff high and spearheaded another stifling defensive performance by the Minnesota Timberwolves in a 105-93 win over the Phoenix Suns to take a 2-2 lead. 0 in their first-round series Tuesday night.

Mike Conley and Rudy Gobert each added 18 points to help the Timberwolves offset the smothering of Anthony Edwards by the Suns, who held the All-Star to 15 points after allowing him 33 in the opener. Edwards went 3 for 12 from the floor.

The teams head to Phoenix for Game 3 Friday night. Minnesota has only held a 2-0 series lead one other time in franchise history, against Denver in the first round in 2004, en route to a 4-1 series victory.

Devin Booker scored 20 points, Kevin Durant added 18 and sixth man Eric Gordon had 15 for the Suns, who have yet to get their high-octane offense going. The big three of Booker, Durant and Bradley Beal combined to shoot 18 of 45, with McDaniels topping the list of reasons for the slump.

After taking an eight-point lead in the second quarter and taking a 51-50 advantage into halftime, the Suns wore down as Karl-Anthony Towns (12 points) got going after early foul trouble.

Phoenix lost starting guard Grayson Allen to an aggravated ankle sprain in the third quarter, in which the Wolves used a 12-0 run to create some breathing room. Edwards sank a 22-footer over Durant on that spurt to make it 70-63, and the momentum — and the crowd noise — carried into the fourth quarter.

Conley found Gobert with a bounce pass on the pick-and-roll for an easy slam and an 84-76 lead that the Wolves then extended to 19 points, before the 17-year veteran point guard made a corner 3 points that electrified the arena. . The “Wolves in 4!” a chant appeared in the final minutes.

The Wolves used their lockdown defense to stifle two-thirds of Phoenix’s big three and a heavy dose of Edwards on offense to pull out a 25-point victory in Game 1 Saturday.

Suns coach Frank Vogel said the 22-year-old rising star needed to see five bodies every time he had the ball, and the Suns never hesitated to send multiple defenders to invade his space .

The Timberwolves struggled to make them pay, shooting 9 for 32 from 3-point range. The bench production that helped them dominate Game 1 has declined. The whistles were tighter this time, leading to a costly three-foul first quarter for Towns that kept him out until halftime.

But McDaniels, Gobert and everyone else wisely attacked the basket with abandon, making sure the Wolves could use their size advantage inside.

They also passed their maturity test. Booker slammed his forearms into McDaniels after a stray elbow, triggering McDaniels into an ill-advised push that earned him a technical foul. But the fiery 23-year-old recovered well afterward.

Jusuf Nurkic (10 points, 14 rebounds) helped neutralize some of Gobert’s prize-winning and impaired defense. After the Timberwolves set a franchise playoff record with a plus-24 rebounding margin, the Suns had a 41-39 advantage.

Associated Press reporting.

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