DENVER (AP) — It wasn’t so much another slow start or Anthony Edwards’ 43 points that bothered Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone after the Minnesota Timberwolves thumped the reigning NBA champions 106-99 in the opener of the second-round series Saturday night.

It was more how the Nuggets allowed Edwards’ hot hand to ignite his supporting cast as the Wolves improved to 5-0 in the playoffs and sent the Nuggets to a series deficit, something they never had last year while winning it all.

“Yeah, I wasn’t worried about the start. It was 18-4. Jamal Murray didn’t practice all week, couldn’t make a shot. I’m more worried about our second-half defense,” said Malone, whose team will try to even the series Monday night in Game 2.

“I think at one point they were shooting 90%” after halftime.

The Timberwolves finished with a 73.7% clip in the third quarter, and those 14 baskets in 19 shots helped them erase a 44-40 halftime deficit and take a 73-68 lead into the fourth quarter, where Minnesota stayed hot, hitting 13 of 19 shots.

That’s 27 of 38 in the second half for a 71% shooting clip.

“Naz Reid got going. Karl-Anthony Towns got going. Mike Conley got going — where Anthony Edwards carried the day in that first half,” Malone said. “But second half I just felt not nearly enough discipline and physicality and they were able to get whatever they wanted.

“Seventy-one percent in the second half of a playoff game is unacceptable.”

Especially when Jamal Murray, the hero of Denver’s first round against the Lakers, had zero points at halftime — his first scoreless half in his 59th career playoff game — and finished with 17 points. Nikola Jokic had 32 and Michael Porter Jr. 20.

Edwards scored 25 of his 43 points in the first half, but he had very little help from his teammates until they came out of the locker room and couldn’t miss.

“So, it was the Anthony Edwards show, but we’re up,” Malone said. “Then what you worry about in that third quarter, I don’t know how many points he got in that third quarter (it was six), but I know Karl got going and the other guys got going, and that’s when they become really dangerous because now you have three scorers, four scorers.

“And that can’t be the case. I mean, ANT had 43, Karl had 20, Naz had 16 off the bench. Conley had 14,” Malone said. “It’ll be a quick exit if we allow four guys to get off like that. So, ANT’s going to get his. We can do a much better job” on everyone else.

Here’s how hot the Wolves were after halftime: Edwards was the only Minnesota player to miss more than one shot — and he was 7 for 12.

It’s always difficult to double Edwards and get the ball out of his hands. because the Wolves had a high-powered offense in which all five starters averaged double figures in points in their first-round sweep of Phoenix.

“I mean, any good team has multiple weapons,” Porter said. “One thing that makes us successful is when teams double Joker, we’ve got capable guys that can make shots” and make them pay.

“Similar with them. If you double ANT, he may be swinging the ball to KAT or Mike Conley or Jaden McDaniels, all capable guys. So, it’s definitely a balance and something we’ve got to look at on film.”

The Nuggets went 10-1 at home on their way to winning the franchise’s first NBA championship last summer and 3-0 at Ball Arena against the Lakers in Round 1 this year.

“Yeah, we definitely want to bounce back, especially in our home arena,” said Porter. “We’ve got to lock in from the jump. We know this team is very good, and we know it’s going to be a long series. And it’s going to be a good series. We’ve just got to get the next one.”

Timberwolves assistant coach Micah Nori, who filled in on the sideline for Chris Finch, who’s recovering from knee surgery that forced him to sit in the second row, said the emphasis in Round 1 was on slowing the Sun’s fast starts but against Denver, they had to focus on curbing Denver’s prowess of closing out opponents in the fourth quarter.

“What we talked about coming into the Denver series if we have outscored them all four (regular season) games through the first three quarters and they had done a very good job of outscoring us in the fourth,” Nori said. “So, we went from starting games to closing games and just talking about taking care of the basketball, making sure we get good shots.”