Nuggets Spoil Love's Comeback, Beat Wolves 101-94
Web Editorial Associate
A faulty third quarter spoiled Kevin Love’s surprise debut, as the Minnesota Timberwolves dropped a 101-94 game against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday at Target Center.
Love shocked everyone an hour before tipoff when it was announced he would play against the Nuggets, and he looked like he didn’t skip a beat from last season. Love collected a double-double (34 points, 14 rebounds) in 34 minutes, shooting an effective 48 percent from the field.
Wolves vs Nuggets
“I said all along, the first day I got cleared I was going to get back and be on the floor,” Love said. “I'm just upset that we didn't win.”
Minnesota sprinted out to a 26-15 advantage after the first quarter, riding 16 points from a red-hot Love and going on an 11-0 run at one point. At half, the Nuggets were down by 14 and looking erratic. They were only shooting 39 percent, while the Wolves had nailed 50 percent of their shot attempts at the break.
The next half was radically different for the Wolves, as they managed only 15 points and gave up the lead for the first time. Danilo Gallinari, Andre Iguodala and Ty Lawson all netted 11 points each in the second half for Denver as Minnesota ran out of gas.
"It was a tale of two halves,” said coach Rick Adelman, whose squad lost their third straight contest and dropped to 5-5 on the year. “We played really well the first half and took care of the ball and got some stops; the third quarter we didn't start going. We had 11 turnovers in the second half. [We] missed opportunities at the basket, and they got out running and making plays.”
Besides Love, Minnesota also welcomed back injured players Nikola Pekovic and J.J. Barea. Pekovic recorded 10 points and seven rebounds, while Barea collected 12 points.
“We had a great first half,” Barea said, “everyone came in with a lot of energy. Kevin gave a great boost to start the game, but third quarter they made adjustments. At halftime they started getting stops, and we just got stuck. That third quarter killed us.”
Gallinari led Denver with 19 points, and Iguodala and Lawson contributed 18 each. Kenneth Faried snagged a team-high 14 rebounds before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
Leader of the Pack: Kevin Love
Playing his first regular season minutes since sustaining a hand injury, Love had a great statistical game. He shot 12-for-25 from the field for 34 points, and he also grabbed 14 boards to mark his first double-double.
There were times during the second half where Love appeared to be favoring his right hand, which was wrapped. He noted after the game that although he may be feeling fatigued at this point.
“I think the biggest thing will be just be me getting back in game shape,” Love said. “I think, the hand, it's only been five weeks; when it gets to eight weeks, that hopefully I'll be back to the real Kevin Love.”
Highlight of the Night
The Wolves were making a final push in the fourth quarter with the game tied, 78-78. J.J. Barea stole the ball and lofted a floater up towards the rim; he missed, but Lou Amundson soared in to finish with a two-handed tip slam—forcing Denver to call a timeout and quiet the roaring Target Center fan base. Minnesota assumed a two-point lead, their last of the contest.
The Numbers Game
Quote of the Night
“I think tonight, with Pek and Kevin under the rim, for probably 40 minutes out of 48 we were dominating. Especially on our end. But eight minutes out of 48, we crashed.”—Andrei Kirilenko on the added advantage down low with Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic returning from injury.
After the Thanksgiving holiday, Minnesota embarks on a four-game road trip out west. Starting with Portland on Friday, the Wolves go on to play Golden State, Sacramento and the Los Angeles Clippers before returning home.
“We have to win the road, that's what I told them,” Adelman said. “Sometimes you can turn things around just as easy on the road. We have to try and go and get the first win Friday."