Nuggets hold off Timberwolves in OT, 103-101
DENVER – Arron Afflalo hit a tiebreaking floater in the lane with 33.7 seconds remaining in overtime and reserve Al Harrington scored a season-high 31 points as the short-handed Denver Nuggets beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 103-101 Monday night.
Afflalo spun past defender Luke Ridnour and swished his shot to put Denver ahead. From there, the Nuggets closed the game out at the line and snapped a three-game skid.
Afflalo finished with 20 points and rookie Kenneth Faried added 14 rebounds as the Nuggets beat the Timberwolves for the 17th time in 18 games.
Kevin love had 22 points and 13 rebounds for Minnesota, which snapped its three-game winning streak.
Harrington came up big all night, tying the score at 93 on a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:39 remaining in regulation. That would be the last basket before overtime as both teams couldn't find the range.
Afflalo had a chance to win it at the buzzer in regulation, but his jumper — with Ridnour closely guarding him — clanged off the back of the rim.
In overtime, Afflalo received another chance — and made it count.
Ridnour missed a layup with 17.1 seconds remaining. The Nuggets then gained some breathing room at the free throw line, but still had to hang on in the waning seconds.
Up by three points, Julyan Stone, who was filling in at point guard, turned the ball over. But with time winding down, Martell Webster elected to drive in for the layup instead of pulling up for a game-tying 3, paving the way for Denver's win.
The Nuggets lost their cool and control of the game late in the third quarter.
Leading 76-69, Andre Miller became irate over an offensive foul and kept barking at the officials, eventually leading to his ejection. The Timberwolves took advantage, using an 11-2 run to take the lead.
Miller's ejection forced the team to rely on the little-used Stone down the stretch.
The banged-up Nuggets were without Danilo Gallinari (left ankle), Nene (left calf strain) and Rudy Fernandez (lower back strain). They also lost speedy point guard Ty Lawson to a sprained left ankle in the second quarter. His status is day-to-day.
Coach George Karl is hoping to keep the team afloat and not lose ground in the playoff race until he gets all his pieces back. Nene might return later this week and Gallinari could be back on the court soon after the All-Star break.
The possible addition of former Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler might just help. He watched the game Monday night from a suite with team executive Masai Ujiri sitting by his side.
Chandler's in town as he looks at potential landing places for when his time in China is finished. He signed with Zhejiang Guangsha of the Chinese Basketball Association during the lockout and is ineligible to return until his team signs off and FIBA, basketball's governing body, gives him clearance.
Asked if he had chatted with Chandler yet, Karl said with a grin, "Is he here?"
The Timberwolves weren't at full strength, either, as center Darko Milicic didn't make the trip due to a stomach ailment. Milicic just recently returned to the lineup after missing a few games with a sprained right ankle.
They also lost another center when Nikola Pekovic left with a sprained right ankle. He had seven points and seven rebounds in 15 minutes.
Both teams were playing on consecutive nights. The Timberwolves were coming off a dramatic 92-91 win over Philadelphia, while the Nuggets were reeling from a 124-118 overtime loss to Oklahoma City in which Kevin Durant had a career-high 51 points.
Behind the play of energetic point guard Ricky Rubio, Minnesota jumped out to a 14-point lead early in the second quarter. But Harrington came off the bench to spark the Nuggets, leading the team on a 17-2 run. Harrington scored 14 points in the first half as Denver took a 51-46 lead into the locker room.
NOTES: Rubio and Lawson were both picked by the Timberwolves in the 2009 draft. Rubio was taken fifth overall and Lawson at 18th, before being dealt to Denver. ... The Timberwolves haven't won in the Mile High City since Nov. 29, 2009. ... F Corey Brewer was given a technical in the fourth quarter. ... Miller had 12 assists before his ejection.