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Nuggets Beat Timberwolves on the Road
The Denver Nuggets ended a three-game road trip with a win, downing the Minnesota Timberwolves 103-101 Wednesday night at Target Center.
The Nuggets snapped a two-game losing streak on the strength of a 28-11 run the first 9:33 of the third quarter, a stretch during which they to erase a six-point halftime deficit on their way to a hard-earned victory. Point guard Jamal Murray scored 11 in the third as Denver outscored Minnesota by 17 in the quarter to take a double-digit advantage into the fourth.
“That’s how I love to play,” Denver coach Michael Malone said of his team’s third-quarter play. “Just seeing our guys getting after it. We got offense off the defense, and when we did it we were able to execute and get guys the ball where they’re most effective.”
Malone added: “I love when we play that type of basketball, and, to me, that’s winning basketball.”
Denver led by as many as 15 in the fourth, but the Timberwolves battled back, trimming their deficit down to one on two occasions. However, the Nuggets didn’t fold, responding with timely buckets each time and never relinquished the lead in the quarter. A 3-pointers by Gary Harris put them up 92-88 with 4:56 left. Harris scored on a layup after Minnesota scored to put his team ahead three just 23 seconds later.
Nuggets forward Paul Millsap left the game with 5:23 to go in the third after taking a blow to the head from Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns but returned in the fourth. The 6-8 veteran enjoyed his most efficient offensive game of the season, scoring a game-high 25 points on nearly perfect 11-13 shooting while adding five rebounds and a game-best five steals.
His hanging floater off the dribble in a 1-on-1 situation against Towns with 1:32 remaining put the Nuggets up six and gave his team enough cushion to hang on for the win down the stretch.
“I think it just reinforces what we’ve been preaching since Day 1,” Malone said of the impact of the victory on the team’s psyche. “When we lost here last year in Game 82, we all spent all summer long not forgetting that feeling of that loss. We committed ourselves to coming back. We’re not gonna be of the worst defensive teams in the league anymore. That has kept us out of the playoffs two year in a row and all the players have committed to it.”
Murray was the Nuggets’ second-leading scorer on the night with 18 points, including four 3-pointers, to go along with four assists. Harris finished with 17 points and four rebounds while center Nikola Jokić recorded a double-double with seven points, 10 assists and 12 rebounds in 37 minutes.
Third-year shooting guard Malik Beasley scored all 11 of his points off the bench in the first half. The Florida State product went 4 of 5 from the field and knocked each of his three 3-point attempts. Backup point guard Monte Morris played 23 minutes, scoring nine points, dishing out four assists and grabbing three rebounds.
Towns led the way for Minnesota (7-11) with 22 points followed by Derrick Rose (20), Robert Covington (13 points), Andrew Wiggins (13) and Dario Saric (12).
The Nuggets host the Orlando Magic at 7 p.m. Friday. That game will be broadcasted live on Altitude TV and streamed on AltitudeNOW.