MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Timberwolves badly needed something to feel good heading into a six-day All-Star break and they found it with Wednesday’s 117-90 rout of reeling the Denver Nuggets at the Target Center.
The Timberwolves lost four consecutive games and six of their last seven before Wednesday’s game while they watched that eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference slip farther and farther from sight.
Before that, the Timberwolves had won five of six games and moved over .500 by a game briefly for the first time since November.
Then center Nikola Pekovic went out of the lineup nine games ago because of ankle bursitis, star Kevin Love played on a bruised leg and stiff neck and back for the last week or more and starter Kevin Martin fractured his thumb last Friday in New Orleans.
Pekovic and Martin remained out Wednesday on a night when the Nuggets finished a four-game road trip winless and without injured star guard Ty Lawson, Nate Robinson and three others including exiled veteran Andre Miller.
Love, meanwhile, played on, starting his second consecutive game before he missed two of three games before that because of a body that remains battered and bruised, but less so than it was not long ago.
Love delivered a 32-point, 11-rebound, eight-assist game in 37 minutes before he and starting point guard Ricky Rubio sat and watched the game’s final eight minutes after the Wolves built a 34-point lead and thumped a Nuggets team that lost four consecutive and six of their last eight games.
Love scored 15 of his points in the third quarter alone after he had scored 17 in the first half. Rubio, playing with five stitches in his chin after he was elbowed in the jaw in the first quarter, made his first four shots Wednesday and had an 11-point, 12-assist night.
Wolves forward Corey Brewer added 22 points while reserve forward Jordan Hamilton led the hurting Nuggets with 16 off the bench.
The Nuggets finished that four-game trip that began last week in New York winless after they trailed by 16 points before first quarter’s end and by 24 points before halftime.
The Wolves led 9-0 before the game was three minutes old and they led 19-3 before five minutes were gone two nights after they lost to Houston at home and the Nuggets lost 119-80 at Indiana.
NOTES: Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman returned to coach Wednesday after he missed Monday’s home loss to Houston because of what the team called “personal reasons.” Those reasons, Adelman said, concerned his wife Mary Kay’s condition. Adelman missed 11 games in January 2013 while doctors tried to diagnose while she was suddenly experiencing seizures. “It’s fine,” he said. “I just had to take care of it.”…The Nuggets played without G Ty Lawson (fractured rib), G Nate Robinson (sprained knee ACL), G Danilo Gallinari (torn ACL) and G Javale McGee (tibia stress fracture). … Timberwolves starting G Kevin Martin missed his third consecutive game because of a fractured thumb. He said it will be re-evaluated before the team leaves Feb. 22 for a five-game West Coast road trip and he is hopeful he will be cleared to play then. … Timberwolves PG Ricky Rubio left the game in the first quarter with a cut on his chin after he was elbowed in the face by Nuggets G Randy Foye, but returned to play in the second quarter.
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