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Jon Krawczynski / AP Sports Writer, Published December 12 2012

Pekovic scores 22 as Timberwolves edge Nuggets

MINNEAPOLIS – Kevin Love spent the morning backpedaling and Nikola Pekovic spent the evening plowing full steam ahead.

Pekovic had 22 points and 11 rebounds and the Minnesota Timberwolves used a big advantage at the free-throw line to overcome Love’s shooting struggles in a 108-105 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.

Love finished with eight points on 3-for-17 shooting and grabbed 14 rebounds on a day he had to explain to Minnesota’s owner and his teammates some critical comments he made about the franchise.

The Timberwolves shot under 40 percent for much of the game, but made 30 of 37 from the free-throw line. The Nuggets were just 14 of 24 at the line.

Kenneth Faried had 26 points and 14 rebounds for the road-weary Nuggets, who missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have tied the game.

JJ Barea had 17 points, eight assists and five rebounds, and Andrei Kirilenko scored 18 points for Minnesota.

The Wolves led by 11 with less than two minutes to play, but the Nuggets pulled within three and had the ball with 34 seconds to play. Ty Lawson’s 3-pointer at the buzzer was short, and the Wolves breathed a sigh of relief.

Lawson had 17 points and 11 assists, and Danilo Gallinari scored 24 for Denver.

Faried has gone through peaks and valleys this season and entered the night with 22 points total in his previous four games. The Manimal got off to a ferocious start on Wednesday night, scoring 14 points and grabbing five boards in the first quarter alone. He gobbled up rebounds then blew the doors off the Minnesota big men in transition for easy buckets.

That it was coming on the second night of a back-to-back against a Wolves team that had the previous four days off was even more impressive. Then again, the Nuggets have been hardened by a grueling schedule to open this season. They’ve played just nine of their first 23 games at home and were finishing up a five-game road trip.

“I don’t know what George Karl did to Commissioner Stern to deserve this schedule,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said.

Denver 29 21 20 35–105

Minnesota 21 30 26 31–108

DENVER (105): Gallinari 9-13 2-2 24, Faried 10-16 6-10 26, Koufos 3-3 0-0 6, Lawson 6-15 4-6 17, Iguodala 1-9 0-0 2, Brewer 6-11 0-0 14, McGee 4-6 1-5 9, A.Miller 1-6 1-1 3, Hamilton 2-4 0-0 4, Mozgov 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 42-83 14-24 105.

MINNESOTA (108): Kirilenko 6-12 6-6 18, Love 3-17 2-4 8, Pekovic 7-10 8-8 22, Ridnour 5-12 3-4 15, Lee 0-2 0-0 0, Stiemsma 1-1 0-0 2, Barea 6-12 5-7 17, Shved 3-10 2-2 8, Williams 2-6 2-2 6, Cunningham 5-5 2-4 12. Totals 38-87 30-37 108.

3-Point Goals: Denver 7-16 (Gallinari 4-5, Brewer 2-4, Lawson 1-3, Hamilton 0-1, A.Miller 0-1, Iguodala 0-2), Minnesota 2-14 (Ridnour 2-3, Williams 0-1, Kirilenko 0-2, Barea 0-2, Shved 0-3, Love 0-3). Rebounds: Denver 53 (Faried 14), Minnesota 54 (Love 14). Assists: Denver 24 (Lawson 11), Minnesota 25 (Barea 8). Total Fouls: Denver 30, Minnesota 22. A: 16,444 (19,356).