Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/13/12
MINNEAPOLIS -- For the Timberwolves, Wednesday started with controversy but ended with confidence. It began with Wolves star Kevin Love trying to explain his controversial comments on the team's direction, front office and ownership to Yahoo!Sports, but ended with the Wolves getting a much-needed 108-105 victory over Denver at Target Center. "Awesome, big win for us," said Love. It was big, considering Love himself struggled through a 3-for-17 shooting performance and the Wolves still ground out a win over a Denver team playing its fifth straight road game. Indeed, it was difficult right until the end to know which team was coming of four days of rest (the Wolves) and which was playing its second road game in two nights (Denver). But center Nikola Pekovic scored 22 points with 12 rebounds, Andrei Kirilenko had 18 points and the Wolves guards combined for 40 points and 12 assists as Minnesota (10-9) won for the fourth time in five games. Denver (11-12), which got double-doubles from guard Ty Lawson (17 points and 11 assists) and forward Kennith Faried (26 points and 14 rebounds), finished its five-game road trip 2-3. The difference was an 18-6 run that started with Dante Cunningham's jumper with 2 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter and ended with Pekovic's running hook with 9:05 left in the fourth that turned a one-point Wolves lead into a 13-point cushion. It allowed the Wolves to withstand a late Denver rush that saw the Nuggets pull within two points with 7.9 seconds left. "I can't complain about my team's effort," Denver coach George Karl said. "They had good moments. Too many free throws, too many fouls and too many gifts." The Wolves started the game with a gold shooting touch and didn't really warm up until late, shooting 43.7 percent. Denver, on the other hand, shot 50.6 percent. But the Wolves won thanks to a 30-14 scoring edge on the free-throw line and a 27-18 edge on points off of turnovers. "Just a really good win," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "We battled all night long, even though we didn't shoot the ball well again. We did enough to win the game." And a lot of folks helped. The Wolves bench, led by Alexey Shved's six points, scored 21 second-quarter points as the Wolves worked themselves to a one-point halftime lead. Pekovic had eight points and Luke Ridnour seven in the third quarter. Guard J.J. Barea had 11 of his 17 points and four of his eight assists in the fourth quarter. "They were coming off a long trip, so this was a game we had to win," said Barea. "This was a team win for us, with our star struggling a little bit. Everybody else stood tall. When that happens is when teams get good." Cunningham had six points and Barea four in the key run that gave the Wolves their lead. But down 11 with 2:04 left, the Nuggets put together a 15-6 run -- with Corey Brewer scoring 10 of those -- to pull within 107-105 with 7.9 seconds left. But, coming out of a time out Cunningham was fouled and hit one of two free throws with 5.4 seconds left. "We let another opportunity go where we could have made a stride and have a winning record," Lawson said. "But we just let it go again. You have to win those games." NOTES: Reacting to the uproar caused by his interview with Yahoo!Sports, 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 guard Ricky Rubio's is expected to return Saturday 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. ... Wolves guard Malcolm Lee left the game in the second quarter with a hyper-extended right knee. ... Josh Howard missed the game due to illness.
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