Nuggets Best Timberwolves, Extend Win Streak to Six Games

With mere hours to prepare for the Minnesota Timberwolves, whom they faced on the second night of a back-to-back after a win at home against the Houston Rockets followed by a 900-mile trek, the Denver Nuggets galvanized enough energy to pull out a win.

Denver downed Minnesota 107-106 at the Target Center to extend their current win streak to six games and improve to 37-15 on the season.

“It’s a division win on the road,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “That’s the second time we’ve come in here and won. So, I love the fact that we started this road trip off on the right note.”

The Nuggets dug themselves a nine-point hole, falling behind 38-29 after one, but started the second quarter on an 11-2 run to even the score at 40 on an eight-footer by Trey Lyles with 9:21 to go before the break. They trailed by three at halftime, but held a slim, one-point lead, heading into the fourth.

Denver looked to put the Timberwolves away early in the in the final 12 minutes of regulation, building a six-point advantage, it’s largest of the game, on a 3-pointer from Lyles with 7:14 remaining.

But the home team wouldn’t go down so easily.

Minnesota responded with triples on back-to-back possessions to tie the game at 98 with 6:24 to play to set up a tit-for-tat finish down the stretch.

Holding on to one-point lead with less than a minute remaining, the Nuggets turned the ball over 14.5 seconds to left, giving the Timberwolves a chance to win the game. However, Denver bowed up on defense, forcing Minnesota’s Luol Deng into an ill-advised 3-pointer from the corner that had no chance with center Nikola Jokić contesting as the Nuggets preserved the win.

“I told the guys before the game, I said, ‘We have the best record on the second night of back to backs’” Malone said. “'That’s a credit to you. That’s a credit to your resiliency and your toughness.’ We got in at four o’clock last night, third game in four days. Those are excuses for teams. We don’t use those excuses. We find ways to win. No matter what the situation is.”

Jokić, who was named an all-star for the first time Thursday, recorded his ninth triple-double of the season with 13 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists. Third-year Nuggets guard Malik Beasley led the Nuggets in scoring for the third-consecutive game, going for 22 points on 9-for-14 shooting, including four 3-pointers in 29 minutes.

Will Barton dropped 20 points. Trey Lyles led Denver’s bench unit with 19 points and six rebounds. While Monte Morris logged his first-career double-double with 17 points and 10 assists.

All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns led all scorers with 31 points to go along with 12 rebounds and seven assists while Jerryd Bayless (15), Deng (11), Gorgui Dieng (10) and Andrew Wiggins (10) also finished in double-figures in scoring.

The Nuggets face the Pistons on the road Monday at 5 p.m. MST. That game will be aired live on Altitude TV and stream on AltitudeNOW.