DENVER (AP) — Kevin Love scored 33 points and tied a season high with 19 rebounds for his NBA-best 50th double-double this season, and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the skidding Denver Nuggets 132-128 on Monday night for their third win in a row.
Love topped 30 points for the 11th time in his last 14 starts, helping Minnesota wrap up a 4-1 trip out west.
The Nuggets got a boost from the return of Ty Lawson, who scored a season-high 31 points with 11 assists in his first game since breaking his left rib Feb. 8 at Detroit. But it wasn’t enough to reverse their sagging fortunes. Denver lost its sixth straight and has dropped 11 of 12 overall.
Kevin Martin added 22 points for the Timberwolves, including four clutch free throws in the final 11.7 seconds. Minnesota finished with a huge advantage at the foul line, making 52 of 64 (81.3 percent) to Denver’s 16 of 25 (64 percent).
Trailing by 22 points after a layup by Nikola Pekovic midway through the third quarter, the Nuggets responded with a 13-2 run that Randy Foye finished with a 3-pointer to pull to 85-74 with 4:10 remaining in the period.
Minnesota, though, got its transition game going, getting successive breakaway baskets by Corey Brewer and a driving dunk from Dante Cunningham to take a 98-83 lead into the fourth.
Just 3 minutes later, the Timberwolves were in front by 20 on a 20-foot jumper by Shabazz Muhammad.
Denver made another push, pulling to 117-107 on Aaron Brooks’ 3-pointer with 3:25 left and then cutting it to 128-125 on Wilson Chandler’s 3 with 12.6 seconds left. After Martin was fouled and made a pair of free throws, Evan Fournier hit another 3 with 7.2 seconds remaining to bring Denver to 130-128. Martin was fouled and again made both free throws, securing the win for the Timberwolves after Chandler’s 3-point try in the final seconds hit the rim and bounced away.
The Timberwolves outscored the Nuggets 40-25 in the first quarter and led 66-49 at halftime. Chandler had a pair of baskets, cutting Minnesota’s lead to 58-47, but the Timberwolves scored eight of 10 points in the last 2:18 of the second to rebuild their lead.
NOTES: Timberwolves C Ronny Turiaf missed his fifth game because of a bone bruise on his right knee. Minnesota improved to 27-14 when scoring more than 100 points. Denver lost to Minnesota at the Pepsi Center for just the fourth time in 18 games since the start of the 2005-06 season. Love has scored 30 or more points a team-record 21 times this season. Minnesota’s point total represented a season high.
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