See more of the story

DENVER – The Timberwolves' messy ownership situation was fodder for humor from Nuggets coach Michael Malone and Wolves coach Chris Finch prior to Friday night's showdown of two top teams in the Western Conference.

"A lot to be excited about in Minnesota," Malone said. "I wouldn't sell the team either."

Then Finch was asked how the ownership situation might affect his team.

"If there was ever a definition above your paygrade, this is it," Finch said. "For us, it's business as usual. I also feel the players will feel the same way."

That appeared to be the case Friday, as the Wolves defeated the Nuggets 111-98 and moved past Denver with Oklahoma City into a tie for first place in the Western Conference.

NBA standings

The Wolves won thanks to stingy defense against a Denver team that was without point guard Jamal Murray (knee) for the fourth game in a row. They also got efficient offensive performances from Jaden McDaniels (17 points, 7-for-10 shooting), Mike Conley (23 points, 8-for-12) and Rudy Gobert (21 points, 7-for-8).

"They're the defending champs, but we got all the pieces," McDaniels said. "Everyone on our team is versatile and can guard 1 through 4, 1 through 5. It's a good matchup for us, but I think we're the better team."

The Wolves also went the entire first half without committing a turnover, which elicited laughs and smiles when players and Finch if they thought this turnover-prone team was capable of such a feat. The Wolves haven't done that in a first half since 2005, per the team.

"Did we do that? No way," Conley said.

Added Gobert: "If you had asked me that a couple months ago, I would've been surprised. But as of lately, the growth that we have here, especially Anthony Edwards — the last few games, we had a few halves, like two, three turnovers. So, why not zero?"

Teammates credit Edwards, who played through back spasms, with making the right reads as Denver was crowding him early.

"Ant set the tone early," Finch said. "He got off of it a bunch of times early in the game, kind of loosened it up for himself and his teammates."

He found his teammates and the Wolves' ball movement was crisp — and they were hitting their open shots. In that first half, the Wolves shot 57% and led by 19. They led by as much as 26 in the third and put on cruise control through the fourth to the finish line. Edwards finished with 25 points on 8-for-19 shooting.

Nikola Jokic led Denver, which shot just 40%, with 32 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

The Wolves opted to start Naz Reid again in the 4 spot, and Reid spent a significant amount of time guarding Jokic one-on-one as the Wolves deployed Gobert as a rim protector and help defender, the way they prefer to defend the Nuggets.

Reid struggled offensively (seven points, 2-for-12), but his teammates gave him major kudos for the job he did holding down the fort against Jokic, the two-time NBA MVP. That's a matchup Reid hasn't had to take on much in his career, like last season, when he missed the playoff series against Denver because of left wrist surgery.

"He did a great job," Conley said. "Got a couple fouls and got discouraged, but we were like, 'Man, you're doing a great job. That's Jokic, man. He's going to get those. He's going to score.' Just proud that he was able to keep his head in the game and stay focused on the next play."

BOXSCORE: Timberwolves 111, Denver 98

And even though Reid didn't hit a lot of shots, Edwards still gave him credit for opening up the offense.

"It starts with Naz," Edwards said. "The way that he plays through the second action, it's just everybody is open because he play with so much pace. He's very -- I don't even know how to describe it, man. He gives everybody energy the way that he just catches it at the top, second-side, 'Hey, go get him.' He's like a big point guard out there."

The Wolves looked on the same page and in sync in a way that said they are beginning to peak as the playoffs near. Even with the ownership situation looming over the franchise, the team might be able to keep the noise out of the locker room as it chases down what can be a special season.

"I think we're getting there," Finch said when asked if the Wolves were playing their best basketball. "We just got to keep doing it every night."