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Timberwolves streak into Denver

Mon 20th, February 2012

(Sports Network) - Northwest Division rivals clash in the Rockies Monday when the struggling Denver Nuggets play host to Kevin Love and the improved Minnesota Timberwolves.

A win tonight by the Wolves would give them their first four-game winning streak in over two years, snap a six-game skid to Denver, push the team over the .500 mark on the season and enable them to pull even with the Nuggets in the division.

Minnesota earned its third straight victory on Sunday in the Twin Cities when Love made two free throws with one-tenth of a second remaining in regulation, giving the Timberwolves a 92-91 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Thaddeus Young had put the Sixers on top, 91-90, on an 18-foot jumper with 40.4 seconds left.

After the teams exchanged misses, only 3.6 seconds remained on the clock when Love caught the inbounds pass at the top of the left wing out of a timeout. He drove to the lane before Andre Iguodala came off his man along the baseline and tried to tie up the fellow All-Star on the left block. Love went up for a shot and was blocked by Elton Brand, but the whistle blew on Iguodala's reach- in.

The ensuing free throws all but sealed Minnesota's third straight win and Philadelphia's third consecutive loss. The Timberwolves outscored the Sixers at the free throw line, 23-8.

"We haven't been able to get that critical stop," said Sixers head coach Doug Collins, who did not comment on the final foul call.

Love finished with 20 points on 7-of-23 shooting to go with 15 rebounds, while Ricky Rubio logged 22 points in the victory. Nikola Pekovic posted 17 points and nine rebounds for Minnesota, which also got 14 points from J.J. Barea off the bench.

"I only played one good quarter," Love admitted. "(But) we were the more physical team tonight. We played well."

The Wolves haven't been at .500 this late in a season since they were 22-22 on Jan. 29, 2007.

The Nuggets, meanwhile, just finished a dismal 0-3 road trip by falling to Oklahoma City in overtime, 124-118, on Sunday. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook showed why they're considered one of the league's best 1-2 punches Sunday, combining for a staggering 91 points in that one for the Thunder.

Arron Afflalo led Denver with 27 points, while Andre Miller was one of four bench players to score in double digits for the Nuggets, logging 21 points to go with 10 assists.

Kosta Koufos scored 13 points, while fellow reserves Al Harrington and Chris Andersen each had 11 for Denver, which lost despite leading by five points in the final minute of regulation.

"In a lot of ways we won the game, but the scoreboard says we lost it," said Nuggets coach George Karl.

Denver, which is 8-7 at the Pepsi Center this season, remains without leading scorer Danilo Gallinari (ankle), and could be without big man Nene (calf) for a fifth consecutive contest.

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