Love leads Wolves past depleted Nuggets 117-90

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 12, 2014 at 11:04 pm •  Published: February 12, 2014
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves sent Kevin Love off to NBA All-Star weekend with a complete performance and a critical win.

The Denver Nuggets played as though they were already relaxing on a tropical beach.

Love started practicing early for All-Star festivities, making six of 11 shots from 3-point range and totaling 32 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists to lead the Timberwolves to a 117-90 victory over the Nuggets on Wednesday night.

"It's always a tough game before the break to come out with a lot of energy, and we did," Love said. "We were excited to play. We knew we needed a win."

Love, chosen as a first-time starter for the Western Conference team, will also take part in the 3-point shooting contest this weekend in New Orleans. In five February games, Love has averaged 32.6 points. He sat last week because of a stiff neck, and then with a bruised left quadriceps, but his banged-up body hasn't hindered his production when he is on the court.

"I was pretty sore before the game still, but once we got going I felt good," Love said. "I was definitely happy we got the large lead, and I really, really needed to sit down those last eight minutes."

Corey Brewer added 22 points, J.J. Barea pitched in 18 points on 8-for-8 shooting, and Ricky Rubio had 11 points, 12 assists and a season-high seven steals for the Wolves, who had coach Rick Adelman back on the sideline. He missed the previous game on Monday, an absence he said was related to his wife's health.

The Wolves, still missing Nikola Pekovic (right ankle bursitis) and Kevin Martin (broken left thumb) stopped a four-game losing streak.

"We needed a game like that after having a tough stretch," Rubio said.

The curmudgeon coach wasn't quite satisfied, calling timeout at one point in the second quarter when a turnover gave the Nuggets a fast-break dunk off a lob pass from Randy Foye to Jordan Hamilton. That cut the lead to 47-29.

"I don't know, 40 would be nice to be ahead by," Adelman said. "I'd relax then. We have a tendency to give up points quickly."

The Wolves trail eighth-place Phoenix by six games.

Hamilton led the Nuggets with 16 points and seven assists, and J.J. Hickson added 14 points and 13 rebounds. Reeling from injuries, the Nuggets (24-27) have dropped nine of 13 and four games in a row to fall behind the Wolves (25-28) and into 11th place.

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