Nuggets aim to continue home dominance in clash with 'Wolves
The Denver Nuggets are one of the best teams on their own floor and will be playing at home often over the next month.
A 17-game winning streak by the Los Angeles Clippers didn't seem to instill fear in the Nuggets, who will go for their second straight win Thursday versus the Northwest Division-rival Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Nuggets ended the Clippers' franchise-best winning streak with a 92-78 triumph on New Year's Day thanks to Danilo Gallinari's 17 points and six rebounds. Kenneth Faried scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Denver, which is playing 15 of 18 games at the Pepsi Center, has won eight in a row as the host and owns a 10-1 mark in the Rockies.
"As the game went on, we did a better job of getting our guards back and rebounding the ball. I thought that was the reason we controlled the game in the second half. It was our rebounding," Nuggets coach George Karl said.
Denver scored 21 points off turnovers and led by as many as 18. Andre Miller started his first game of the season and scored 12 points with a season-high 12 assists for the victors, who stopped the second-longest winning streak for an opponent in team annals. Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls had an 18- game run come to an end at the hands of Denver back in 1996.
Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson did not play versus the Clippers because of an Achilles' problem and is doubtful Thursday. Miller will start in Lawson's place again if he is unable to go.
The Nuggets are 14-3 when allowing fewer than 100 points this season and 7-2 when keeping the opposition under 90 points. They will close out a three-game homestand Saturday versus the Utah Jazz, another division foe.
Minnesota is in the midst of playing two straight and six of eight road games, and has lost four in a row away from the Twin Cities.
In a 106-84 loss at Utah Wednesday night, Kevin Love posted a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead Minnesota. Love, though, was 0-for-4 from 3-point range and 4-for-14 overall.
"Man, I had great shots. I mean, even before the game my shot felt great. I had another bunch of shots that were right there," Love told NBA.com. "It's gonna come. If you tell me I'm taking bad shots and shots that I don't usually make, you're fooling yourself and you're fooling me."
Alexey Shved scored 13 points and former Jazz standout Andrei Kirilenko had 12 points and seven boards for the Timberwolves, who have dropped five of their last seven. Kirilenko played 10 seasons with Utah.
"It was just one of those games where for some reason we couldn't make a shot for like five, six possessions in a row," Kirilenko said.
Minnesota missed its first nine shots and made just 27.8 percent from the floor in the third period. It was outscored, 11-0, to start the third frame.
The Wolves, owners of a 5-10 road record, shot just 34.5 percent (29-for-84) from the floor and were a woeful 2-of-17 from behind the arc. After Thursday's game in Denver, the Timberwolves will return home for two games before a four- game road swing.
The 2012-13 season series between Minnesota and Denver is tied at a game apiece, but the Nuggets have won 20 of the last 23 encounters. Denver has won five in a row and 10 of the last 11 meetings with the Wolves at home.