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Wiggins’ 31 fuel Timberwolves in win

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DENVER — Andrew Wiggins was feeling ill before Saturday night’s game. After a career performance from the rookie forward, Wiggins and his Minnesota teammates are feeling much better.

Wiggins scored a season-high 31 points and grabbed nine rebounds, and the Timberwolves beat the Denver Nuggets 113-105 on Saturday night.

Forward Thaddeus Young had 22 points and forward Robbie Hummel contributed 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Timberwolves.

Minnesota (7-32) has won two of its last three after a 15-game losing streak. Both of the wins came on the road.

Guard Mo Williams was the catalyst for the previous win, scoring a career-high 52 points at Indiana on Tuesday. It was Wiggins’ turn against the Nuggets, and the rookie came up big.

“He’s growing,” Williams said. “The rookie ran into a wall right now, but he’s hitting his stride, which is good.”

Wiggins didn’t show any effects of the rookie wall or the bug that sapped his energy. He was 11 of 17 from the field and was 4 of 5 from long range.

“I’m a little under the weather, but I feel great,” he said. “We got the win, we played hard and we executed down the stretch. Nothing feels better than that.”

Guard Ty Lawson had 22 points and guard Jameer Nelson, making his home debut, scored 16 off the bench.

It was the second straight loss for the Nuggets. Denver (18-22) had won five in a row to get within two games of .500 and now have to play Golden State and San Antonio on consecutive nights.

“That’s a bad loss,” Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said. “Not because we’re playing a bad team. but in light of our schedule we have coming up I viewed this game tonight as a must win.”

Forward J.J. Hickson had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Denver.

The Nuggets led by nine in the third quarter, but Minnesota finished the quarter strong to take an 85-83 lead going into the fourth.

“They just got hot,” Lawson said. “We let them stay in the game and they started hitting shots toward the end. With a team like this, you’ve got to put them down early.”

Guard Zach LaVine’s 3-pointer with 9:09 left gave the Timberwolves a 92-87 lead. Minnesota missed five straight shots and fell behind by one but came right back.

Hummel had two tip-ins, center Gorgui Dieng hit a short jumper and Wiggins completed a three-point play to make it 103-95 with 4:04 left.

“One of them was definitely my fault,” Nelson said of Hummel’s tip-ins. “I take full responsibility for that. I just lost vision. Normally, I’m good on blockouts and getting bigger guys out of there. I had a mental breakdown late in the game I shouldn’t have.”

Denver scored five straight points, but guard Mo Williams hit a 3-pointer and Dieng hit another jumper to make it 108-100 with 2:07 left.

The Nuggets tried to rally. Chandler was fouled on a 3-pointer but missed the free throw. Forward Kenneth Faried tipped in the rebound cut the lead to 108-105, but Williams answered with a 20-footer to get the lead to five with 1:20 left.

“I told our staff and the guys on the bench, all our guys on the bench, when (they cut it to three), no one put their head down,” Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said. “Two or three weeks ago they would’ve done that. We had guys make big shots.”

After a Chandler miss, Williams hit another bucket to put the Timberwolves up by seven with 33.7 seconds left.

“It’s natural for me,” Williams said. “I’m not afraid to miss those shots.”

Williams finished with 13 points after scoring 78 in the previous two games.

Wiggins had 19 points in the first half and helped the Timberwolves take a 14-point lead. They led 48-40 midway through the second quarter before the Nuggets responded. Denver went on a 15-2 run to take a 59-56 lead at the break.

NOTES: Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said G Ricky Rubio’s left ankle injury was more severe than just a high sprain, which is why the team is taking extra time for him to heal. “Normally it takes eight to nine weeks, but we’re being cautious,” Saunders said. “We just signed the guy to a $55 million contract so we’re going to be cautious.” Rubio has missed 34 games with the injury. … Nuggets G Randy Foye returned Saturday after missing 26 games with a torn right quad. … Minnesota F Shabazz Muhammad missed his fourth straight game with a strained outer oblique. … Denver F Danilo Gallinari (right meniscus tear) hopes to return to action Friday against Boston.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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