THE FACTS: The Denver Nuggets overcame a sluggish start and the surprising return of Minnesota's Kevin Love to defeat the Timberwolves 101-94 in Minneapolis Wednesday night. The win for Denver spoiled the return of the Wolve's All-Star forward, who broke his right hand in training camp and was not expected back until mid-December. He finished the night with 34 points and 14 rebounds, but it was not enough and Minnesota dropped their third consecutive game, all on their home court. Danillo Gallinari led the way for Denver with 19 points while Andrew Iguodala and Ty Lawson each contributed 18 in the balanced offensive attack.
QUOTABLE: "I thought they would get a bounce with Kevin Love playing, I just didn't think they'd get that kind of a bounce. You know 16 points in the first, it caused us to scramble a lot and the rhythm of the first half we never got any rhythm. When we got good shots we didn't make them, our defensive alertness and a tentativeness to what we were supposed to do. We yelled and screamed a little bit at halftime and they did great."
-- Nuggets coach George Karl
THE STAT: Denver ranked last in the NBA in free throw percentage coming into tonight's game. But the Nuggets made 22 of 26 attempts tonight (84.6%). In a game that was decided by single-digits overcoming what has been has been a struggle was certainly a factor in their road win.
TURNING POINT: Karl's halftime speech is probably what should get credit for the turning point. Denver trailed 44-58 at the half but opened the third quarter with a 14-2 run. They didn't actually take the lead until 2:11 was remaining in the quarter but the opening run quickly got them back in control of what previously was a Minnesota controlled game. Andre Iguodala got it started with a three, scoring six in the run while Gallinari scored seven in the 4:28 stretch.
QUOTABLE II: "I didn't want to make a big deal about it. I told my teammates and they didn't really believe me and once they saw a jersey in my locker they believed it was true. More than anything I'm just upset we didn't win."
-- Timberwolves forward Love.
HOT: Love's first quarter was significantly more than what anyone in Target Center was anticipating. In the first 12 minutes Love scored 16 points, shot 7-of-12 from the field and grabbed six rebounds. Not exactly a tentative start for someone returning a few weeks early from a fractured shooting hand.
NOTABLE: The Nugget's second half defense stifled the Timberwolves after trailing by 14 at the break. Minnesota scored 32 points in the second quarter but were held to 36 in the entire second half. Denver's defensive pressure held Minnesota to just a 27.3 percent field goal percentage in the final two quarters.
UP NEXT: For the Wolves, Friday at Portland, Saturday at Golden State, Tuesday at Sacramento. For the Nuggets, Friday vs.Golden State , Sunday vs. New Orleans, Tuesday at Utah.