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The Minnesota Timberwolves gained ground in the Western Conference playoff race on Friday night, defeating the Denver Nuggets 135-130.

Minnesota entered the night three games back of the Nuggets for the sixth seed and an automatic spot in the playoffs. The Timberwolves responded by coming out with a sense of urgency.

D'Angelo Russell was one player that answered the bell. After averaging 11.8 points over his last 11 games, Russell came out on fire with 12 points in the first quarter and 22 points in the first half.

Russell's fast start was answered by Karl-Anthony Towns, who used an emphatic alley-oop from Anthony Edwards as a springboard to score 16 of his 32 points in the first quarter.

Towns and Russell shot a combined 10-for-10 from the floor in the first quarter. But just as it appeared that the foundational duo would be on its way to a big night, Towns picked up two quick fouls to keep the door open for Denver.

The Nuggets capitalized with Aaron Gordon's athleticism. The Denver forward wound up with 24 points on the night and got to the rim with ease. With Nikola Jokic (38 points, 19 rebounds, eight assists) pitching in an MVP performance, Denver made things tight after coming back from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

But the final quarter belonged to Edwards. The Timberwolves star entered the fourth quarter shooting 1-for-10 on the night but scored 16 points in the final frame to put Minnesota in a position to close the game out.

Although Denver climbed within three points on a Will Barton 3-pointer, Taurean Prince knocked down a pair of free throws with 19.8 seconds to go to help the Timberwolves escape Denver with the victory.

The Timberwolves (44-34) sit two games back of Denver for the sixth seed with four games to play. Minnesota will continue its chase for an automatic playoff berth when they travel to the Houston Rockets on Sunday night.

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