1. A result no one predicted

Ticket prices on the secondary market were down, way down.

The odds in Vegas were up.

And just when so many expected defending NBA champion Denver to send the Timberwolves home for the summer with a fourth consecutive and resounding loss, the Wolves evened this Western Conference semifinal series at 3-3 with a 115-70 victory.

The deciding Game 7 is Sunday in Denver.

Wolves point guard Mike Conley came back after missing Game 5, Karl-Anthony Towns overcame a kneed leg and the Wolves trounced the Nuggets, just as they had in Game 2 in Denver.

Forward Jaden McDaniels provided a pulse for the Wolves after they fell behind 9-2, then went on a 20-0 run that changed the course of the game.

McDaniels provided 21 points on 8-for-10 shooting, three three-pointers and the energy that will go to a Game 7, just as the Wolves-Sacramento Western Conference semifinal series went to a Game 7 the Wolves won at home exactly 20 years ago.

Denver star Jamal Murray made only one of his first 11 shots and finished 4-for-18, not far off from his 3-for-18 in Game 2.

The Nuggets then won three consecutive games to take the series back to Target Center.

On Thursday, they trailed by as many as 50 points.

Both coaches cleared their benches starting with more than eight minutes left in the game.

If that wasn't enough, the sellout crowd received free chicken sandwiches when Denver backup Julian Strawther missed consecutive free throws to trigger a fourth-quarter coupon giveaway.

2. Conley comes back despite calf injury

Conley returned to the starting lineup after he missed Game 5 because of a calf injury. He went 5-for-9 from the field, including 3-for-6 on threes, and had five assists and four rebounds in 31 gutsy minutes.

Wolves coach Chris Finch said before the game he didn't expect any limitations with Conley and the injury that occurred on Sunday's final play at Target Center.

"We'll be mindful of it, but he's a great communicator, I'm sure he'll let us know," Finch said. "Having Mike back helps in every capacity,"

3. Towns doesn't let a banged-up knee stop him

Towns started Thursday and played on despite what he called getting kneed in his left leg by a Denver player early in Game 5.

It's the same leg on which he had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in March.

"I'm playing [Thursday], so it doesn't matter," he said at morning shootaround. "Does that answer everyone's questions about my knee?"

He played 29 minutes despite some early foul trouble and scored 10 points on 4-for-10 shooting.

4. Running on empty? Not quite

Yeah, yeah, we know the NBA is a game of runs. But this is silly.

The Nuggets started with a 9-0 run after the Wolves scored the game's first basket. The Wolves reversed course and then some with a 20-0 run of their own to give them an 22-9 lead with 3:20 left in the first quarter.

Jokic was the catalyst for Denver's run, McDaniels and Edwards for the Wolves. They combined to score 11 of those 20 points.

5. Turning point?

Unlike their complete meltdown at the end of Game 4′s first half, the Wolves avoided a repeat when the Nuggets trimmed a 24-point deficit to 12 in the final minute of the first half. They stopped the Nuggets' late 7-0 run with McDaniel's putback basket at the buzzer and took a 59-40 lead into halftime.

6. Where was that alley and oop?

Conley's return presumably would bring back that Conley-to-Rudy Gobert connection. Not really. Gobert scored eight points.

"Mike-Rudy pick-and-rolls have been golden for us all season," Finch said before the game. "It's something we go to, a bit of a comfort blanket and also it helps Anthony [Edwards] because he doesn't have to face all that pressure early on."

7. Do you remember those guys?

The Nuggets have two faces on their bench familiar with Wolves fans: former head coach Ryan Saunders and former assistant coach David Adelman.

Saunders is the son of late Wolves coach Flip Saunders and Adelman the son of Basketball Hall of Famer and former Wolves coach Rick Adelman.

Denver coach Michael Malone is a coach's son himself. He called his longtime assistant Adelman a "head coach in waiting."

"I don't know what else David Adelman can do to show people that he'd deserving of a head coaching opportunity," Malone said. "He knows the game. He grew up in a gym. High basketball IQ. His ability to relate to the players is second to none."

ESPN reported the Los Angeles Lakers are interested in interviewing him for their vacancy, among several other teams.

Ryan Saunders joined Malone's staff in June 2022 after the Wolves fired him in February 2021 and hired Finch.

"Ryan is another guy, son of a coach, grew up a student of the game," Malone said. "Having been a head coach, unless you've sat in that seat you really don't know, not until you've done that job. It wasn't an easy time for him that year in Minnesota. They're both great people, they're very good coaches and they've helped me and this team so much."

8. Remembering Flip Saunders

Malone did Thursday what he says he does every time he walks into Target Center: He looks toward the rafters, where a banner remembering Flip Saunders hangs.

"Every time I walk into this building I always look up at the banner that says 'Flip' on it," Malone said. "Flip meant so much to a lot of people."

Saunders invited Malone on a couple of road trips when Saunders was coaching the Wolves for a second time and Sacramento had fired Malone in December 2014.

"I didn't really know him, that was the beauty of it," Malone said. "He was just reaching out to another coach. He must have seen something in me. I'll always cherish those moments and memories."

9. Edwards and his brother 'bdifferent' both go to work

Edwards' brother and Atlanta hip-hop artist bdifferent performed at halftime and wore Edwards' jersey. The two combined to do a Bose ad earlier in Edwards' NBA career. His voiceover to a hip-hop track went like this: "Music helps me find my rhythm on the court. Sometimes I try to dribble the ball to the beat. If I'm missing shots, I try to sing along to give me motivation."

10. Here comes Jimmy

Leathered and frizzy NBA superfan Jimmy Goldstein watched courtside. He's an 84-year-old Los Angeles resident who you can spot anywhere, anytime during the NBA playoffs. Former Wolves players Tom Gugliotta, Gorgui Dieng and J.R. Rider also attended and sat courtside.