MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Every time the Minnesota Timberwolves rallied on Wednesday night, the Denver Nuggets were able make some baskets to cut short the comeback.
Ty Lawson scored 23 points, reserve Nate Robinson added 15 and the Nuggets held off the Timberwolves 117-110.
Kenneth Faried added 13 points and had three alley-oop dunks as Denver won for the seventh time in nine games after a horrible start to the season.
“We’re starting to get it. We’re starting to build some momentum,” Denver coach Brian Shaw said.
Kevin Martin scored 29 for Minnesota and Ricky Rubio added 17 points and 10 assists. Nikola Pekovic had 21 points and Kevin Love finished with 19.
Minnesota’s bench was outscored 47-10 and was overmatched by Robinson and Denver’s high-octane reserves.
Eight different Nuggets players scored in double figures, including all five starters.
“We just came in and allowed them to do whatever they wanted to do at the offensive end. We put up no resistance,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said as he got angry while at the postgame press conference podium.
“There’s been all this talk about what kind of team we can be. I don’t care about what people talk about or what it looks like on paper. We’ve done nothing,” Adelman added. “Right now, are you going to just give in?”
Ignited by three 3-pointers from Robinson, the Nuggets built a 15-point lead early in the second quarter. Denver stayed hot and shot 63 percent in the first half, taking a 64-55 lead into the locker room.
“Nate came it and gave us a huge lift in the first half,” Lawson said. “That’s what we need sometimes. Someone to just come in and take the game over.”
The Wolves hung around by hitting free throws — Martin finished 11 of 11 from the line — and cut Denver’s lead to three after Love’s dunk with 3:41 to play in the third.
After Denver built its lead back up to 11 in the fourth, Love made a 3-pointer to cap a 10-0 run and pull the Wolves to within one with 3:58 to play.
But Minnesota couldn’t come up with a defensive stop to finish the rally and allowed Denver to regain control after three straight dunks.
The Wolves wouldn’t go away, though, and pulled within three after a dunk by Corey Brewer with 1:13 to play.
Love missed a 3 that would have tied it on Minnesota’s next possession and Lawson swished four free throws in the final minute to beat the Wolves back one last time.
Every time the Wolves started coming back, the Nuggets were able to get a couple baskets and halt Minnesota’s momentum.
“We just need to play … defense,” Love said.
Rubio didn’t use the same salty language as Love, but he was just as upset about his team’s defensive effort.
“We haven’t done anything in this league. This team has the potential to do something, but we just have to commit to be a team on defense.”
Several Nuggets players said after the game that they knew they could score against Minnesota. Just two weeks ago, Denver also scored 117 in a win over the Wolves.
“They’re more of an offensive-minded team. We just wanted to come out and dominate them offensively,” Faried said. “We attacked them. We knew they had slow feet.”
The Nuggets have won 23 of the team’s last 27 meetings.
Minnesota didn’t have any fast-break points in the first half, but came up with 15 during its second-half comeback.
Denver took advantage of Minnesota’s 17 turnovers to score 25 points. The Nuggets also hit 8 of 16 3-point attempts.
NOTES: Luc Mbah a Moute, acquired Tuesday for former No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams, dressed but did not play for Minnesota. … Denver’s 64 points were its second-highest first-half total this season. … Denver has won 11 of the last 13 at Target Center.
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