Nuggets Begin Home Stand with Comfortable Win Over Timberwolves
As the Denver Nuggets looked to bounce-back from a tough road trip, it turns out that all they needed was a little home cooking. The Nuggets led throughout the majority of a 133-107 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Ball movement was the story in the win, as Denver finished with 40 assists. The Nuggets also used strong 3-point shooting (18-30) to maintain their lead throughout the second half.
“After the last couple of days, with the film sessions harping on ball movement, being selfless and playing for each other, for us to get 40 assists, it was refreshing and fun to watch,” Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said after the team’s strong offensive performance.
The two teams battled to a draw for most of the first quarter. Nikola Jokić was active offensively, posting 4 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists in the first five minutes of the game. Denver (44-22) won the battle inside in the quarter, posting 20 points in the paint. Denver also moved the ball offensively, racking up 11 assists in the first quarter alone. The Nuggets’ strong play inside coupled with their active defense allowed them to take a 31-20 lead into the second quarter. The Nuggets ended the quarter on a 7-0 run and held Minnesota (32-36) to just 31.8 percent shooting from the field.
The Timberwolves began cutting into the deficit to start the second quarter, using a 12-5 run in the early stages of the quarter to get within single digits. After Minnesota got within four points midway through the quarter, Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokić responded with consecutive baskets. The Nuggets continued to move the ball, finishing with ten assists in the quarter and 21 in the first half. The Timberwolves built an advantage on the offensive glass as they worked on cutting the deficit, but the Nuggets continued to respond with timely baskets to keep a double-digit lead at the half, 58-48.
As the Timberwolves worked to get back into the game, Jamal Murray came alive to start the second half, scoring seven points in the first three minutes of the quarter. The scoring run from Murray appeared to energize the rest of the team, as Denver went on a 9-0 run to grab a commanding 17-point lead midway through the quarter. However, Minnesota responded with an 8-0 run of their own to cut the lead to nine points. Paul Millsap responded by hitting two consecutive 3-pointers, bringing the lead back up to 12 for Denver. The Nuggets would extend the lead up to 16 points by the end of the quarter, as Millsap knocked down a half-court shot at the buzzer. Denver knocked down seven 3-pointers in the quarter and finished with eight assists in the third frame as ball movement continued to be an emphasis.
“It felt great (to move the ball). We really responded to the film, where coach pointed out some zero-pass and one-pass possessions. I thought we did a better job of sharing it tonight,” Nuggets center Mason Plumlee expressed after posting eight assists in the win. “I always like having the ball, so I’m happy to make plays when I get it.”
The Nuggets built their lead up to 19 points after the first four minutes of the final quarter. A layup from Nikola Jokić and 3-pointers from Torrey Craig and Monte Morris gave Denver a strong hold of the game. Minnesota followed Denver’s run with a quick 6-0 response of their own, as the Nuggets committed a turnover on three consecutive possessions. After a quick timeout, Denver responded with an 8-2 run, highlighted by 3-pointers from Gary Harris and Jamal Murray. With four minutes remaining in the game, Denver led 118-95 as both teams brought in bench reserves to close the game.
Jamal Murray led the way for the Nuggets with 30 points on 10-16 shooting from the field. Paul Millsap (23 points), Nikola Jokić (18), Monte Morris (16) and Gary Harris (12) were the other players in double-figures for Denver.
The Timberwolves were led by Karl-Anthony Towns, who had 34 points and 10 rebounds. Tyus Jones (16 points), Cameron Reynolds (12) and C.J. Williams (11) were the other players in double-figures for Minnesota.
The Nuggets are back in action on Thursday when they host the Dallas Mavericks. That game will also tip at 8:30 p.m. MT and will be broadcasted on TNT.