Andrew Wiggins left Minnesota’s arena on Monday night with the hope that Denver would lose and Authentic Andrew Cogliano Jersey , thus, secure the Timberwolves a spot in the playoffs.
He planned to track the Nuggets on his smartphone like most of his teammates, but there was no viewing party in the works or anxious huddle around the high-definition television in the locker room.
The Timberwolves mostly were just relieved they did their part by beating Memphis, considering way they’ve playing lately.
”It’s our fault for leaving it up to chance,” Wiggins said. ”So we’ve just got to wait and see.”
Fittingly for a once-promising season that has become a slog to the finish, the Wolves wound up watching the Nuggets rally past Portland about an hour after they left the court at Target Center. That kept Denver tied with Minnesota at 46-35 for eighth place in the Western Conference with two days remaining on the schedule.
Well, guess who their final opponent is? The Nuggets will bring a six-game winning streak to Target Center on Wednesday night.
”If it was easy it wouldn’t be fun,” center Karl-Anthony Towns said after practice Tuesday. ”If it was easy it wouldn’t be the Minnesota way.”
The Wolves’ last trip to the playoffs ended with a loss in six games to the Los Angeles Lakers in the conference finals in 2004, when Kevin Garnett was patrolling the post. Towns? He was 8 years old. Wiggins was 9.
”They’ve prepared themselves all year for this,” coach Tom Thibodeau said, expressing confidence in the team’s young cornerstones to perform up to the task despite missing critical postseason experience.
With the Nuggets and Wolves only one game behind New Orleans, Oklahoma City and San Antonio, the winner could receive quite the reward. Both Denver and Minnesota can still finish as high as fifth.
There’ll be some relief and satisfaction just to be part of the 16-team tournament after the 82-game grind Eagles Authentic Jerseys , but avoiding the eighth seed and a matchup with league-leading Houston would be preferable. Same goes for seventh place and pairing with defending NBA champion Golden State, a daunting foe even if star Steph Curry isn’t cleared yet to return from his knee injury.
The Wolves were in control of a spot in the playoffs, as high as third place, for most of this season until Jimmy Butler’s absence began to catch up to them and their primary competitors in the West cranked up their games. The Wolves have won both games with Butler back from the meniscus cartilage injury in his right knee, after going 8-9 without him, but losing at home to the Grizzlies two weeks ago even with their emotional leader and best all-around player missing was still inexcusable. Just one more win, and they’d already be safely in.
Nothing ever comes easy for this snake-bitten franchise, though, a history that Towns and Wiggins are well aware of.
”I’ve been here my whole career now,” Wiggins said. ”So it’s about time we do something.”
The Nuggets have their own long-frustrated fan base, with their last appearance in the playoffs coming in 2013. The last time they passed the first round was 2009, one of the franchise’s three trips to the Western Conference finals since joining the NBA. The others were in 1978 and 1985.
Seven of Denver’s last nine opponents are headed to the playoffs. The other two were against the Timberwolves, without Butler Cheap Orlando Brown Jr. Jersey , and the Los Angeles Clippers, the only other teams in the league that haven’t clinched but sport winning records. The Nuggets eliminated the Clippers (42-39) by beating them on Saturday.
They’ve had to do this the hard way, too.
”We wouldn’t want it any other way,” guard Gary Harris said.
The Nuggets have produced a remarkable series of clutch performances, with fourth-quarter moxie pushing them to this point as much as any specific skill or strength. They held the Blazers to just 33 points in the second half on Monday night, further galvanizing their belief that not only can they make the playoffs but be a factor once they begin.
”It’s as high as it can be,” coach Mike Malone said. ”I don’t know if it can get any higher. To not play your best basketball and still find ways to win is a really encouraging and confidence-building type of feel.”
AP Sports Writer Arnie Stapleton in Denver contributed to this report.
>The Latest on the NFL’s 15th Sunday of the regular season (all times Eastern):11:55 p.m.Dallas kept its playoff hopes alive by the slimmest of margins after Dak Prescott converted a fourth-down sneak by the width of an index card in a 20-17 win over the Oakland Raiders.The fourth-down conversion set up Dan Bailey’s go-ahead 19-yard field goal. Dallas then held on when Derek Carr fumbled the ball inches from the goal line, giving the Cowboys a game-clinching touchback with 31 seconds left.On Prescott’s fourth-down sneak, referee Gene Steratore called for the chains to come out, but even that wasn’t enough. He then tried to slide what appeared to be an index card between the tip of the ball and the end of the chain. When the card didn’t slide through, Steratore gave Dallas (8-6) a first down.The Raiders fell to 6-8, all but ending their playoff hopes.8:30 p.m.Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sat during the national anthem before Sunday night’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, as he has done routinely this season.That brought to 18 the number of NFL players The Associated Press observed protesting during the anthem this week. The players who protested Sunday have been doing so for most of the season.Ten Seattle Seahawks players either knelt or sat for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Three San Francisco 49ers also knelt ahead of their home game with Tennessee.Three players protested during early games.Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began sitting and later kneeling during the national anthem last season to protest racial injustice.7:23 p.m.New England rallied to beat Pittsburgh 27-24 on the road in a thrilling matchup of the AFC’s top two teams Authentic Russell Bodine Jersey , while the Los Angeles Rams throttled Seattle 42-7 to take control of the NFC West.Tom Brady drove the Patriots 77 yards in just five plays, and Dion Lewis scored from eight yards out to put New England ahead with just 56 seconds left. The Steelers reached the Patriots 7-yard line before Duron Harmon’s interception sealed the win for New England .The Patriots can now clinch home-field advantage by winning their last two games.The Rams had much less drama with Seattle, racing out to a 34-0 halftime lead and cruising to a five-touchdown win.6:02 p.m.The Pittsburgh Steelers will have to protect their lead over the New England Patriots without wide receiver Antonio Brown.The NFL’s leading receiver left in the second quarter with a left calf injury. The team says Brown was taken to the hospital for further evaluation and will not return.Roethlisberger threw touchdown passes to Eli Rogers and Martavis Bryant as the Steelers took their first lead over the Patriots since 2011.Pittsburgh held the ball for nearly 20 minutes in the first half, keeping Tom Brady and the New England offense on the sideline for long stretches.鈥擶ill Graves reporting from Pittsburgh5:40 p.m.The Los Angeles Rams are dethroning the Seattle Seahawks from the top of the NFC West in emphatic fashion.The Rams lead 34-0 at halftime after a thoroughly dominating the Seahawks in the first half. Todd Gurley has rushed for 144 yards and three touchdowns in the first half, including a 57-yard run on third-and-20 in the final minute of the first half as scored completely untouched .The Seahawks left the field at halftime to the sound of boos after the ugliest first half in Pete Carroll’s tenure.The 34 points were the most allowed in a first half by a Carroll-coached Seattle team. It’s also the biggest home deficit for the Seahawks since Carroll’s first season in 2010, when they trailed the Giants 35-0 at halftime on their way to a 41-7 loss.The Rams can’t clinch the division with a victory. But they would have a two-game lead with two games remaining.鈥?Tim Booth reporting from Seattle.5:25 p.m.The Pittsburgh Steelers will have to find out what they can do without wide receiver Antonio Brown.The NFL’s leading receiver left their showdown with New England in the second quarter with a left leg injury. Brown was attempting to haul in a pass from Ben Roethlisberger in the end zone when the leg got caught between two New England defenders. Brown didn’t put any weight on the leg leaving the field and went to the locker room for further evaluation with the game tied at 10-all.鈥擶ill Graves reporting from Pittsburgh4:40 p.m.Nick Foles threw for four touchdowns to help the Eagles beat the Giants 34-29 and remain one game ahead of the Vikings, who throttled Cincinnati 34-7 to win the NFC North, in the battle for home-field advantage.Cam Newton threw four TD passes and Carolina beat Green Bay 31-24 in Aaron Rodgers’ return. Rodgers had three touchdown passes but three interceptions.The Saints held off the Jets 31-19 to keep pace with the Panthers in the NFC South.The Jacksonville Jaguars are returning to the playoffs for the first time in a decade thanks to a 45-7 drubbing of rival Houston.The Redskins, Bills and Ravens also won on Sunday. Baltimore beat Cleveland 27-10, leaving the woeful Browns just two losses away from a 0-16 season.4:30 p.m.Ten Seattle Seahawks players knelt or sat for the national anthem before their home game against the Rams, among 17 players protesting this week.Defensive players Michael Bennett, Dion Jordan, Sheldon Richardson Blake Martinez Jersey Youth , Marcus Smith, Quinton Jefferson, Jarran Reed, Frank Clark, Paul Dawson and Branden Jackson sat during the anthem, while offensive tackle Duane Brown knelt. No Rams players sat or knelt, but defensive end Robert Quinn had his fist raised during the anthem.San Francisco safety Eric Reid, linebacker Eli Harold and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin knelt for the anthem ahead of their home game with Tennessee.Three players protested during the early games.鈥?Tim Booth reporting from Seattle and Janie McCauley reporting from Santa Clara, California3:35 p.m.Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has taken the field in a game for the fi.