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Defense lacking as Nuggets fall to Timberwolves

By The Associated Press

Posted March 3, 2014 23:05

DENVER (AP) -- Kevin Love scored 33 points and tied a season high with 19 rebounds for his NBA-best 50th double-double this season, and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the skidding Denver Nuggets 132-128 on Monday night for their third win in a row.

Love topped 30 points for the 11th time in his last 14 starts, helping Minnesota wrap up a 4-1 trip out west.

The Nuggets got a boost from the return of Ty Lawson, who scored a season-high 31 points with 11 assists in his first game since breaking his left rib Feb. 8 at Detroit. But it wasn't enough to reverse their sagging fortunes. Denver lost its sixth straight and has dropped 11 of 12 overall.

Kevin Martin added 22 points for the Timberwolves, including four clutch free throws in the final 11.7 seconds. Minnesota finished with a huge advantage at the foul line, making 52 of 64 (81.3 percent) to Denver's 16 of 25 (64 percent).

Trailing by 22 points after a layup by Nikola Pekovic midway through the third quarter, the Nuggets responded with a 13-2 run that Randy Foye finished with a 3-pointer to pull to 85-74 with 4:10 remaining in the period.

Minnesota, though, got its transition game going, getting successive breakaway baskets by Corey Brewer and a driving dunk from Dante Cunningham to take a 98-83 lead into the fourth.

Just 3 minutes later, the Timberwolves were in front by 20 on a 20-foot jumper by Shabazz Muhammad.

Denver made another push, pulling to 117-107 on Aaron Brooks' 3-pointer with 3:25 left and then cutting it to 128-125 on Wilson Chandler's 3 with 12.6 seconds left. After Martin was fouled and made a pair of free throws, Evan Fournier hit another 3 with 7.2 seconds remaining to bring Denver to 130-128. Martin was fouled and again made both free throws, securing the win for the Timberwolves after Chandler's 3-point try in the final seconds hit the rim and bounced away.

The Timberwolves outscored the Nuggets 40-25 in the first quarter and led 66-49 at halftime. Chandler had a pair of baskets, cutting Minnesota's lead to 58-47, but the Timberwolves scored eight of 10 points in the last 2:18 of the second to rebuild their lead.

NOTES: Timberwolves C Ronny Turiaf missed his fifth game because of a bone bruise on his right knee. ... Minnesota improved to 27-14 when scoring more than 100 points. ... Denver lost to Minnesota at the Pepsi Center for just the fourth time in 18 games since the start of the 2005-06 season. ... Love has scored 30 or more points a team-record 21 times this season. ... Minnesota's point total represented a season high.


NUGGETS STAR OF THE GAME

Ty Lawson

Points 31 11-16 FG, 6-7 FT
Rebounds 4, 2 OFF 2 DEF
Assists 11
Steals 4
Blocks 0
GAME LEADERS
Points Kevin Love 33
Rebounds Kevin Love 19
Assists Ty Lawson 11
Steals Ty Lawson 4
Blocks Darrell Arthur 2
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Timberwolves forward Corey Brewer on former Nuggets teammate Ty Lawson

"Ty is the man. Ty’s tough to stop. Tonight he was doing his thing. He was making his shots. When he’s in the mid-range he’s almost unguardable."

KEY MOMENT

Poor first quarter puts Denver behind the 8-ball

The Nuggets were down 3 with 4:36 left in the first quarter, only to see Minnesota close on a 20-8 run. It was an uphill battle the rest of the night and Denver's fourth-quarter rally fell just short.

VIDEO: VESELY PUTBACK

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach Brian Shaw

On the free throws and digging a hole early:
“In spite of the 64 free throw attempts that we gave up, which has to be a record of some kind [and] I think an NBA season high, we dug a hole for ourselves in the first quarter [by] getting ourselves down 15 points right off the bat.”

On free throws and points in the paint:
“You give a team 52 points at the free throw line and another 54 points in the paint, it is going to be tough to beat [them].”

On if the team finally clicked when Ty Lawson began playing:
“That’s a part of it too because he had been out for so long. Everybody [was] getting adjusted to him being back out there on the floor. I think that we kind of sat around thinking that because he was coming back, that he was going to save the day and we were going to ride his cape and everyone was kind of sitting around waiting for something to happen … but it doesn’t matter, if we don’t play any defense, we don’t give ourselves a chance to win.”

On Ty Lawson getting aggressive:
“I thought Ty was kind of feeling his way through the first half [and] still was a little hesitant but [he] came out a lot more aggressive. He got over that mental hump in the second half.”

Nuggets guard Randy Foye

On playing from behind most of the game:
“First quarter, simple as that—in the first quarter they beat us by 15. That’s something that coach told us, they’re the best team in the NBA scoring in the first quarter and the second-best team in the third quarter. We just didn’t handle our business. Other than that we did pretty good—we gave up too many free throws, but even with all of the free throws we gave up we had a chance to win the game if we would have guarded in the first quarter.”

On still having a chance to win despite a poor start to the game:
“Yeah, and with all of that we fought back and made it interesting, but it shouldn’t have been there if we had done what we needed to do early on.”

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson

On tonight’s game:
“We gave up too many points in the first quarter and when we play uphill like that it’s tough to come back and get the win. We have to start off early and bring intensity in all of the quarters not just the end. They shot a lot of free-throws, it got out of hand. We need to work on our defense and we will tomorrow in practice.”

On the second half:
“I was being more aggressive because I wasn’t worried about my ribs. I just thought I needed to go all out. I felt alright just toward the end of the game my ribs started to get a little sore but other than that I was good.”

Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried

On giving up 40 points in the first quarter:
“It was a tough first quarter—a tough game. Everybody fought, Ty (Lawson) returned—he played his heart out tonight. That last group of guys that was in there were in foul trouble but we kept fighting, scratching and clawing but it was too much of a hole to dig ourselves out of.”

On being happy to see Ty Lawson back in the lineup:
“Yeah, me and Ty have that chemistry after basically three years you have that chemistry and playing with each other in the summer, you know each other.”

On if they can take something from tonight’s game after almost coming back to win:
“If we take out the first quarter and look at the rest of the game I think we win by 20. We have to be focused, we have to lock in and be together. Right now, some people are in and want to get that win and get that monkey off our back, and some people are just scared but we have to all come in together and push each other. When the starters come out, the second unit has to come up and really do something because we can’t have first quarters like that—that was just bad.”

Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman

On being 52 of 64 from the line:
“Really big numbers. It was a big difference at halftime. We felt if we moved the ball [the Nuggets] were going to have a hard time guarding us. They do get after it and foul. We wanted to be sure that they had to guard us and I think we did a pretty good job of that.”

On the Nuggets run in the fourth:
“We won. That is the bottom line. We won the game, we did enough, and we had a big enough lead that even with the run they had we were able to keep them away. Like I told the team, we won four out of five on this trip. Now you are going home. We know what it is all about. We have to come in with big efforts when we get home.”

On if he thought coming into the season that the team could be this good of a free throw shooting team:
“Well, we added guys. I know Kevin Martin is a 90 percent free throw shooter. Kevin Love is a good free throw shooter and Ricky [Rubio] is a good free throw shooter. We had guys. The important thing is you have the two Kevin’s, who both get to the line frequently. That makes a big difference. We knew we had a good free throw shooting team.

On the impact Corey Brewer has:
“He makes a big difference. He just can run all day. He is amazing. He had a nice game. He guarded [Wilson] Chandler pretty good until the end there when he hit those two threes. But I think all the guys that played tonight contributed.”

Timberwolves forward Kevin Love:

On finishing road trip 4-1:
“It’s big. It sounds a lot better than 3-2. Obviously we wish we could’ve been undefeated. The Portland game was tough but we’re happy with the way we responded in the games after that … We go back home and we’re looking at everybody like they’re a great team; we have to at this point. We go back home for I think four games and hopefully we can say 4-0 is a lot better than 3-1 but I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. We really have to focus on what’s in the present right now and that’s New York on Wednesday.”

On free-throws shooting:
“That was unbelievable. There were a lot of things that went on in that game that was just nuts, particularly the free-throw situation. Even more so the three-pointers at the end were just unbelievable. [Kevin Martin] made some big plays and hit big free-throws and that’s what ultimately gave us separation.”

On the end of the game:
“I kept walking to the bench like ‘this is crazy.’ I really didn’t have any words for it. I guess it doesn’t matter how you do it, all that matters is if you win and we won tonight.”

Timberwolves forward Corey Brewer:

On finishing road trip 4-1:
“We needed a win. Like I’ve said, every game counts from now on for us to get in the playoffs. For us to go 4-1 on this road trip means a lot. Now we get to go home, four games at home, we need all those games also … We couldn’t lose tonight. If we lost tonight it’d be tough. Now we’re one game above .500 and we just need to keep going above .500. We need to keep moving because teams aren’t losing right now so we need to keep winning until they start losing.”

On the end of the game taking so long:
“It took forever. They were making everything. They were throwing stuff up, banking stuff in. But it’s all about getting the win. No matter how you get the win, no matter how ugly or pretty it is, a win is a win.”

On playing against Ty Lawson:
“Ty [Lawson] is the man. Ty’s tough to stop. Tonight he was doing his thing. He was making his shots. When he’s in the mid-range he’s almost unguardable.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Ty Lawson returned after missing the past nine games with a fractured rib to post a season-high 31 points to go with 11 assists and four steals. It was his 19th double-double of the season and his fifth career 30-point game (first career 30/10 game).

• Lawson is just the third player this season to register 30+ points, 10+ assists and 4+ steals in a single game. Additionally, 29 of Lawson’s 31 points came in the second half, the most points he has scored in a half in his career.

• Wilson Chandler recorded 25 points and 10 rebounds tonight. It was his 24th career game with 25+ points and second time doing so with 10-or-more rebounds.

• Randy Foye scored 22 points (4-8 3FG) to go with four rebounds and three assists tonight. It was his ninth 20-point game of the season, with three of those coming in his last six games. Additionally, Foye is shooting 49% (24-49 3FG) from three in his last six contests.

• Kenneth Faried tallied 21 points (9-11 FG) and eight rebounds tonight. It was his sixth 20-point game of the year and the third time in his career he has scored 20+ points when shooting .818-or-better from the field.

• Kevin Love posted game-highs with 33 points and 19 rebounds. It was the fifth time in his career he has posted 33+ points and 19+ rebounds, with three of those games coming this season. Love averaged 28.0 points, 13.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists in four games vs. Denver this season.

TEAM

• The Nuggets snapped their two-game home winning streak over Minnesota. It was just the fourth time Minnesota has won in Denver in their last 18 games. The season-series between Denver and Minnesota ended 2-2 for the second straight year.

• Denver had won 52 consecutive home games when scoring 110-or-more points before tonight’s loss. The last team to lose when scoring 128+ points was Denver vs. PHX on 11/28/10 (138-133).

• The Nuggets had four players score 20+ points (Lawson 31, Chandler 25, Foye 22, Faried 21) tonight, their second game this season doing so (also had four with 20+ at GSW on 1/15). It was the first time Denver has had a 30+ point scorer and three 20+ point scorers since 11/15/95 vs. PHX (Abdul-Rauf with 30, MacLean with 22, Ellis with 21 and Stith with 21).

• Minnesota went 52-of-64 (.813) from the free throw line tonight, setting both franchise and NBA season-highs for free throw makes and attempts. It was the most makes in an NBA game since 1990 and the most attempts since 1999.

• The Timberwolves were 20-of-26 (.769) from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter alone, while Denver was just 16-of-25 (.640) for the entire game. The free throw differential of -39 was the Nuggets largest since at least 1985-86.

• Denver shot 50-of-95 (.526), their highest field goal percentage in a game since 1/15 at GS. Denver is now 11-1 on the season when shooting 50%-or-better.

• The Nuggets scored 79 second-half points, with 45 of those coming in the fourth quarter. It was their most points in the fourth quarter since 4/21/93 vs. DAL (45). The Nuggets scored 49 total points in the first half.

• Denver trailed 115-96 with 5:11 remaining in the game and outscored Minnesota 32-17 the remainder of the game.

• The Timberwolves scored 40 points in the opening quarter, the fifth time this season that Denver has allowed a 40-point quarter (1-4 in those games).

• The Timberwolves registered a season-high 132 points, their 10th game with 120+ points this season. It was the most points that Denver has allowed in a game since 11/28/10 vs. PHX (138-133).