MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points and J.R. Smith scored 10 of his 14 points in the final seven minutes to help the Denver Nuggets to a 113-100 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.
Chauncey Billups added 21 points and 13 assists for his first double-double of the season and Arron Afflalo scored 22 points for the Nuggets, who shot 54.4 percent against Minnesota’s woeful defense.
Newly chosen All-Star Kevin Love had 18 points and 19 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who have lost 14 of their last 16 games. Michael Beasley had 23 points and five assists, but was 7 for 20 from the floor and missed four free throws.
Anthony left the game briefly in the fourth quarter with an apparent injury to his right elbow and did not score a point in the final 12 minutes. Thanks to Smith, he didn’t have to.
The high-flying former slam dunk champion was 4 for 5 in the fourth, hitting a couple of tough fallaway jumpers and putting the game away with a three-point play with just under two minutes to play.
Back in December, the Nuggets won at Target Center without the injured Anthony, Nene and Kenyon Martin, so they figured to have a much easier time with those three back in the lineup. They were cruising midway through the third quarter with a 14-point lead.
Afflalo hit his first four 3-pointers and Anthony was as efficient as he’s ever been, making nine of his 12 shots, most in easy fashion. But Minnesota outscored Denver 15-6 in the final five minutes of the third period to trim the deficit to three points heading into the fourth.
Sebastian Telfair scored five points in the burst to make the score 87-84.
Anthony then sustained a bizarre injury to his right elbow less than a minute into the final period and had to go to the bench briefly. He only took one shot in the fourth quarter and Anthony Tolliver’s two free throws made the score 91-89, but they had no answer for Smith down the stretch.
Denver outscored the Wolves 20-9 from that point to cruise to the win.
Nene added 12 points and six rebounds for Denver.
Jonny Flynn had 11 points and four assists, but the Wolves shot just 39 percent for the game and couldn’t keep up with the Nuggets’ high-scoring offense.
Notes: Nuggets PG Ty Lawson did not play because of a sprained left knee. … Timberwolves F Martell Webster did not play because of back spasms and PG Luke Ridnour missed his third straight game while tending to a family matter.
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