Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/21/12
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Denver Nuggets survived a stealthy surprise attack launched under the cover of darkness just as the sun fell Wednesday in Minneapolis, overcoming in a 101-94 victory a Minnesota team that welcomed back surprise starter Kevin Love from a broken hand. Love had scored 22 points and the Timberwolves led by 17 points in the first half before the Nuggets seemed to know what hit them on a night when Love returned weeks earlier than expected. But Denver withstood the emotion of an opponent getting its two-time All Star back before a big holiday-night crowd and persevered. They reversed course with a 25-15 third quarter in which Andre Iguodala hit three 3-pointers and Danilo Gallinari followed right behind him. In the fourth quarter, they put the Wolves away in the final five minutes, thanks to point guard Andre Miller's play, Ty Lawson's crucial 3-pointer that put Denver ahead for good at 90-87 with 4:13 left and Kenneth Faried's driving dunk right after that. The Nuggets offset Love's 34-point, 14-point debut by getting double-digit scoring performances from five players: Gallinari led everyone with 19, Iguodala and Lawson each had 18 and Jordan Hamilton provided 12 points and Miller 11 off the bench. Denver coach George Karl called his team's second half "the best balance of offense and defense that we've played all year." You can probably credit that to some intermission time spent adjusting to Love's presence and a little halftime motivation. "We yelled and screamed a little bit at halftime and they did great," Karl said. "I thought (the Wolves) would get a bounce with Kevin Love playing and starting, but didn't think they would get that big of a bounce." Love scored 16 of the Wolves' first 21 points, and they led 21-10 in the first eight minutes. Love made his surprise season debut after a New York City hand specialist reviewed new X-rays on Tuesday and determined that right shooting hand had fully healed. Teammates said they didn't know Love would play until they showed up for a walk-through before the game and discovered him at the starting power forward spot. "I didn't want to make a big deal about it," Love said. "I told my teammates, and they didn't really believe me. Once they saw a jersey in my locker, they believed it was true. I did everything I could to stay in shape and wrap my mind around coming back. I said all along that I was going to be back and on the floor." He picked around what he called a rather rusty 34 and 14 performance that included 22 points in the first half. About 200 people more than normal rushed the Target Center box office to buy tickets in the 60 minutes before the opening tap when it became clear that Love would play for the first time since breaking his right shooting hand on Oct. 17. "I didn't learn until maybe 60 minutes before game time," Karl said. "I didn't overreact to it. I hit my head like, 'OK, we have not shown any film or anything on this matchup, Kevin Love is an All-Star player and thankfully it's a 48-minute game.' " On the night before Thanksgiving, Karl was thankful for all of those 48 minutes. "Thank God we hung around," said Karl, whose team has won games at Memphis and Minnesota in three nights. "It's a great win, but to do that on the day before Thanksgiving is kind of special for me. I'm going to drink a few beers and enjoy it." NOTES: Nuggets F Wilson Chandler missed his fourth consecutive game because of a hip injury. Guard Julyan Stone still hasn't played yet this season, also because of a hip injury. ... The Nuggets look a bit like Timberwolves West with former Wolves Corey Brewer, Kosta Koufos and Anthony Randolph on their roster. The list numbers four if you include Ty Lawson, whom the Wolves drafted for Denver 18th overall in 2009 and then traded to the Nuggets. ... Love's return meant that former No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams moved from a starter's job to not playing at all Wednesday. Coach Rick Adelman turned to veteran forwards Dante Cunningham and Lou Amundson instead and sat Williams all night -- just one game after he scored 23 points, including 15 in the first half, against Golden State.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: Yankees close to trading Aroldis Chapman

WATCH: Dontrelle Willis' great reaction to Giancarlo Stanton home run

Reports: Sale cut up throwback uniforms with knife in protest

WNBA withdraws fines for teams that protested gun violence

Ezekiel Elliott: ‘Evil NEVER prevails’


Orioles, Padres reportedly talking trades of Melvin Upton, Cashner

Le’Veon Bell reportedly missed ‘several’ drug tests

Report: Islanders looking at locations to build new arena

Top five takeaways from this year's NBA Summer League

NCAA rules that hanging out with hip-hop star Drake is violation

WATCH: Justin Bieber arm wrestle Sixers center Joel Embiid

Report: Royals didn't invite Johnny Cueto to White House visit

Solo not taking any chances with Zika virus while in Rio

Rays reportedly demanding Profar in pitching deal with Rangers

Facebook doesn’t know the difference between Liverpool and Arsenal

Report: Teams asked about Wade Davis, asking price very high

Aussie Rules Football player accidentally kicks, breaks own leg

Former Arkansas football assistant trolls Bobby Petrino on social media

Could Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw's injury hinder trade talks?

Spurs strike a new deal with NBA stalwart Manu Ginobli

George makes return to Team USA following leg injury

Why the Clippers shouldn't break up their big three

White Sox pay homage to Bo Jackson’s bat-breaking skills with bobblehead

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

WATCH: NBA jersey sponsors that need to happen

Expansion draft playing heavy hand in the current NHL offseason

WATCH: Pop & Timmy have a guys' night out

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker