What could have been a costly 2-game trip ended positively for the Timberwolves.
With Ricky Rubio back in Minneapolis and Kevin Love on the bench due to a injured hand, the Timberwolves created an unexpected win against the Nuggets , shrugging off a poor game against the Utah Jazz last Wednesday.
Jose Juan Barea came off the bench to score 17 points — 12 in the 4th quarter — Alexey Shved also had 17 points, and the Timberwolves triumphed over the loss of Love to beat the Nuggets 101-97.
“It’s huge. It tells a lot about our team,” Barea said. “We had an upsetting loss, and we come into Denver, a hard place to win, and we get the W.”
Ty Lawson, who returned from a one-game absence and Kosta Koufas scored 16 points each for the Nuggets (18-16), who had their eight-game home winning streak snapped.
“There’s always 4, 5, 6 games a year where you embarrass yourself, and tonight was one of those nights,” Denver Nuggets coach George Karl declared. Scores
They can blame the Minnesota Timberwolves bench for that.
Love sat out the final 16 minutes after he sprained a finger on his right hand under the basket late in the 3rd quarter. He left to have an X-ray but returned to the bench at the start of the 4th quarter.
It’s the same hand that he fractured October 17, costing him the first 9 games of the season.
He didn’t get into the game, and he finished with 12 points and a game-high 17 rebounds in 24 minutes.
With Love hurt, Rubio at home and center Nikola Pekovic in foul difficulty; the bench took over, most notably Barea. He played the entire 4th quarter and was big down the stretch, feeding Luke Ridnour for a tiebreaking 3-pointer and minutes later hitting a big 3-pointer of his own.
“It’s about time,” Ridnour claimed of the 3-pointers. “We’ve had a streak of nobody having the ability to hit them, so to get a couple to go down feels pretty good.”
Things looked grim for the Timberwolves when Love left the game. Minnesota trailed by 10, but 3-pointers from Ridnour and Barea and 6 points from Shved gave the Wolves a 73-72 lead early in the 4th.
The game was tied at 91 before Ridnour drained a 27-foot 3-pointer to give Minnesota the lead for good with 2:43 left. After an airball by Andre Miller at the other end, the Timberwolves called a timeout. Barea hit another 3 to put Timberwolves up 97-91 with 1:43 left.
“He was unbelievable. He just kept getting around their big guys,” Adelman announced of Barea. “He keeps dogging people and keeps getting there.”
After Miller hit a layup, Dante Cunningham created a big offensive rebound with 1:21 left — Minnesota’s 17th of the game — and fed Barea for a layup that put the Wolves up by 6 again.
Denver guard Andre Iguodala had an opportunity to cut the lead straight to 2, but he missed a free throw and the Minnesota Timberwolves closed it out at the line.