Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/12/12
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves, led by Center Nikola Pekovic's 22 points and 11 rebounds, and Andrei Kirilenko's 18 points, ground out a 108-105 victory over Denver on Wednesday night at the Target Center by grinding down the Nuggets. J.J. Barea added 17 and Luke Ridnour had 15 for the Wolves, who made up for a slow start with a steady march to the free-throw line and by taking advantage of Denver's 19 turnovers. The Wolves (10-9) won their second consecutive game and their fourth in five games. Denver (11-12) finished its five-game road trip with a 2-3 record. This despite double-doubles by guard Ty Lawson (17 points, 10 assists) and Kenneth Faried (26 points, 14 rebounds) and 24 points from Danilo Gallinari. The Wolves used a 30-14 edge on points from the line and a 27-18 edge on points off turnovers to make up for a slow start shooting. But they didn't take advantage for good until an 18-6 run starting late in the third quarter and moving into the fourth gave them a 13-point advantage, a lead that held up to a late Nuggets charge. The Wolves had four days of rest entering the game while the Nuggets were finishing off a back-to-back run of games. And yet it was Denver that showed all the energy early. In a first quarter in which they shot 65 percent, Faried scored 14 points and the Nuggets finished the quarter on a 10-3 run to lead 29-21. Then Denver started the second by expanding that lead to 35-23 on Corey Brewer's jumper. Finally the Wolves started getting some stops, and the result was an 11-3 run that brought Minnesota within 38-34. Down 47-40, the Wolves scored nine straight points -- all from the free throw line -- to take a 51-47 lead before Gallinari hit a 3-pointer to make it 51-50 at halftime. It was still a one-point game late in the third quarter when the Nuggets hit the wall. The Wolves used a quick 8-2 run with four players scoring to take a 77-70 lead into the fourth. The Wolves didn't lose the momentum, extending that run to 18-6 to take a 13-point lead on Pekovic's basket that gave the Wolves an 87-74 lead. The Nuggets pulled to within 103-100 with 38 seconds left on the second of two straight baskets by Corey Brewer. But Kirilenko scored on a fast break basket with 21.2 seconds left and the Wolves hit enough free throws down the stretch to seal the game. NOTES: Reacting to the uproar caused by his interview with Yahoo!Sports, Wolves forward Kevin Love said, essentially, that he meant what he said, but is sorry he said it. In the article he criticized the team's personnel moves and the decision not to offer him a maximum contract a year ago, naming president of basketball operations David Kahn and owner Glen Taylor by name. "I'm not going to go forward and say I have anything to apologize about," he said. "I said what I felt. I didn't mean to alienate my team, my coaches, the organization or more importantly the fans." Love said he would keep his feelings in-house going forward. ... Taylor said Saturday is the target date for point guard Ricky Rubio's return from knee surgery. But it depends on how Rubio feels. ... Wednesday's game ended a five-game road trip and ended a stretch in which the Nuggets started the season with 17 of their first 23 games on the road. Nineteen of their next 27 games are at home.
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