Prior to tonight's tipoff Minnesota Timberwolves fans were beaming with excitement. About a half hour from tipoff we all learned that Kevin Love would be making his 2012 debut after missing five weeks with that broken hand. Twitter was abuzz and TWolves fans were ecstatic, while Denver Nuggets fans weren't exactly sharing in that excitement.
However, by the end of the night those tables had turned as excitement turned to disappointment for Minnesota and the Nuggets were thrilled with the W.
With under 15 seconds to play in the first half the Minnesota Timberwolves were up by 17 (their largest of the night), however a three just before the break would cut that to a 14-point lead. The Nuggets used a big third quarter (outscoring Minnesota by 10; 15-25) to pull within just four points. The key was the 20pts combined in the third quarter from Iguodala (11) and Gallinari (9). In the fourth quarter the Nuggets continued to roll and ended up outscoring Minnesota by 11; 32-21 for the 7-point victory, thanks to 11 fourth quarter points from Andre Miller and another 8 from Ty Lawson.
Kevin Love did return and did so in style with some very Love-esque NUMB3RS, he finished with 34 and 14, however the downfall was the rest of the team and their offensive production, only J.J. Barea (12) and Nikola Pekovic (10) finished in double-digits. Ironically the three TWolves players that finished in double-digits were the three that returned to the active roster with their respective injuries (Love for 9 games, J.J. for 5 games and Pek for 2 games).
It was a loss that certainly should've been a W, however Timberwolves fans are thrilled, nonetheless. Minnesota has it's superstar back and the offense should be MUCH better in the coming games.
Let's take a look at tonight's top performers...
Kevin Love scored 16 of his points in the first quarter (in 9 minutes) and added another 9 points in the fourth quarter (in roughly 6 minutes). I was surprised by Pekovic's rebounding stat line. Pek was averaging six rebounds a game prior to tonight's game, but tonight, with Kevin Love in the post next to him (grabbing 14 boards) Pek was able to snag one higher than his season average...clearly I was expecting to see the opposite.
The Nuggets got big offensive production from that trio. Kenneth Faried added 4pts & 14 reb as well. Veteran Andre Miller turned in a great fourth quarter as he scored all 11 of his points in that final quarter and helped close out Minny for the W. The Nuggets are certainly a top team in the West, however they're definitely beatable and I think I speak for Wolves fans everywhere, when I say I'm excited for the next matchup between these two (Dec. 12).
Let's take a look at some team stats...
The Nuggets shot higher percentages from the field, deep and the line. They just barely out-rebounded Minnesota with a +4, finished with more fast break points and points in the paint for the W. The Wolves left 9 points at the line. You hit those nine free throws and you win by two!
I'm usually pretty upset after a TWolves loss, especially when Minnesota blows a double-digit lead in the process, however I think I'm still 'high' on the fact that Kevin Love is back and brighter TWolves days are ahead. That's all for now, the TWolves are back in action on Friday as they begin their four-game West coast road trip (with stops in Portland, Oakland, Sacramento & L.A.). A full gameday preview will be available before then. Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!