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The Sports Xchange, Published March 03 2014

Love lifts Wolves past Denver

DENVER – Forward Kevin Love had 33 points and 19 rebounds, guard Kevin Martin added 22 points and the surging Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Denver Nuggets 132-128 Monday night.

Minnesota outscored Denver 52-16 from the foul line while winning for the sixth time in seven games. Martin was 16-for-17 from the line, compensating for his 3-for-11 shooting from the floor.

The Timberwolves (30-29) are making a postseason push but face tough odds in a stacked Western Conference. They are 10th in the conference, five games behind the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks, who occupy the last two playoff spots, with the Memphis Grizzlies in between.

Minnesota went 4-1 on the road trip that ended Monday.

Denver guard Ty Lawson had 31 points and 11 assists in his return to the lineup. Forward Wilson Chandler had 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets, whose recent slide ended any hope of extending its playoff streak to 11 straight seasons.

Denver (25-34) lost its sixth game in a row.

The Nuggets are 1-11 since early February, and they lost their fifth consecutive home game. The absence of Lawson, among other injuries, hurt the team, but Denver’s defense has been poor since mid-January. It was bad against the Timberwolves, who shot 54 percent in the first quarter and took a 15-point lead.

Minnesota cooled off in the second quarter but still outscored the Nuggets by two to take a 66-49 lead at the break.

Love, who had a streak of 11 straight games of at least 25 points and 10 rebounds broken Saturday, had 16 points and 14 rebounds at intermission.

Minnesota used an 8-2 run to go ahead 74-51 early in the third.

Lawson looked rusty at the start in his first action since suffering a fractured rib Feb. 8 in Detroit. He had three turnovers and two points in the first half before getting aggressive in the second half.

The Nuggets had a chance to cut the deficit to single digits in the final minute of the third, but guard Evan Fournier’s turnover led to a fast-break dunk, and the Timberwolves took a 98-83 lead into the fourth.

The margin grew to 21 on two free throws by Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic, but Denver got within 117-107 on guard Aaron Brooks’ 3-pointer with 3 minutes, 25 seconds left.

Forward Kenneth Faried’s free throw with 1:26 cut the deficit to 121-112, the first time it was single digits since late in the first quarter.

Minnesota 40 26 32 34 — 132:

Denver 25 24 34 45 — 128:

MINNESOTA (132)

Love 10-21 11-13 33, C.Brewer 6-10 3-6 16, Kv.Martin 3-11 16-17 22, Rubio 1-2 3-4 5, Pekovic 5-8 6-9 16, Barea 4-10 7-8 16, Cunningham 4-5 1-1 9, Budinger 1-3 0-0 2, Muhammad 1-5 5-6 7, Mbah a Moute 0-0 0-0 0, Dieng 3-5 0-0 6. Totals 38-80 52-64 132.

DENVER (128)

Foye 8-16 2-3 22, Lawson 11-16 6-7 31, W.Chandler 11-22 1-3 25, Faried 9-11 3-5 21, Mozgov 2-3 0-1 4, Hickson 2-7 1-3 5, A.Brooks 3-9 0-0 8, Fournier 1-5 2-2 5, Arthur 2-5 1-1 5, Vesely 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 50-95 16-25 128.

3-Point Goals: Minnesota 4-16 (Love 2-6, Barea 1-1, C.Brewer 1-2, Muhammad 0-1, Budinger 0-2, Kv.Martin 0-4), Denver 12-33 (Foye 4-8, Lawson 3-4, A.Brooks 2-5, W.Chandler 2-11, Fournier 1-4, Hickson 0-1). Fouled out: Foye, Lawson. Rebounds: Minnesota 61 (Love 19), Denver 47 (W.Chandler 10). Assists: Minnesota 21 (Rubio, Barea 5), Denver 23 (Lawson 11). Total Fouls: Minnesota 22 (Rubio 5), Denver 37 (Foye, Lawson 6). A—15,240.