Published March 25, 2012
Luke Ridnour had 25 points and six assists, and Wayne Ellington added 17 points for the Timberwolves, who are trying to stay relevant in the Western Conference playoff race.
JaVale McGee had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets.
Denver trailed by 28 points in the first half and lost its second straight game. The Nuggets played without starting shooting guard Arron Afflalo, who was suspended for throwing an elbow at Jazz forward Gordon Hayward's head on Friday night.
Love had 51 points and 14 rebounds in a double-overtime loss at Oklahoma City on Friday night.
Kenneth Faried had 17 points and Andrew Miller added 14 for Denver.
Minnesota has struggled since point guard Ricky Rubio was lost for the season March 9 to a torn ACL in his left knee. They were in position to make the playoffs — sitting eighth in the West — when they played the Los Angeles Lakers that night, but have since gone 3-6 to fall to 11th in the conference.
To show how important this game was for the Wolves, they never led by fewer than 16 points in the second half, but Love did not sit until 2:40 was left to play.
Love had his seventh career 30-20 game and ninth this season with at least 30 points and 15 boards. Atlanta's Josh Smith is the only other player in the league who has done it more than once this season. Smith has done it twice.
"I think we used to call him kind of a poor man's Larry Bird," Denver coach George Karl said before the game. "I think you can take 'poor man's' off that comparison now. His ability to rebound is incredible and his offensive tools and skills are growing."
Nikola Pekovic missed his third straight game with bone spurs in his right ankle. Guard JJ Barea also missed the game with a bruised right thigh.
The Nuggets have basically been treading water for most of March, trying to get McGee up to speed since the surprising deal that brought him from Washington in exchange for Brazilian big man Nene.
They are 2-6 in their last eight road games and are two games into a seven-game road trip that could decide their season. They entered the game eighth in the West, a half-game ahead of Houston, 1 1/2 ahead of Phoenix and 3 1/2 in front of the Wolves.
The game got off to a sluggish start. Problems with the shot clock caused three delays in the first five minutes and led to a 40-minute first period.
The Nuggets had far more difficulty making the adjustment than the Wolves did. They outscored Denver 39-9 in a 12-minute bridge of the first and second quarters to blow the doors open.
Playing with a gimpy groin, Ridnour hit all seven of his shots in the first half, the last a 3-pointer from the corner that gave Minnesota a 68-41 lead just before halftime.
NOTES: The Wolves had 20,023 fans in attendance, the first time in franchise history they've drawn a crowd of more than 20,000 in three straight games. ... Timberwolves rookie Malcolm Lee scored the first points of his career on a driving runner in the second quarter. Lee missed most of the first two months of the season with a knee injury.