Wiggins’ 40 points leads T-Wolves over Nuggets
DENVER — Andrew Wiggins scored 40 points and Karl-Anthony Towns added 24 points and 18 rebounds in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 112-99 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.
Wiggins’ second 40-plus game in 24 hours helped the Timberwolves split the season series with the Nuggets, whom they’re chasing for the eighth playoff spot in the West.
Before tip-off, Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau spoke about the danger of checking out mentally before the final game leading up to the All-Star break. He suggested focus was paramount in a game like this because “mentally if you go on the break before the break comes, it’s a problem.”
It wasn’t for Minnesota, which bounced back nicely from a 116-108 loss to LeBron James and the Cavs on Tuesday night when Wiggins scored 41.
The Nuggets went cold 48 hours after blowing out Golden State behind an NBA record-tying 24 3-pointers on 40 tries. They made just 11 of 34 from long range this time, and Nicola Jokic shot just 6 of 19 from the floor for 15 hard-earned points.
The Nuggets missed a half dozen reverse layups and even a breakaway dunk. That embarrassment, by Gary Harris, who led Denver with 22 points, came during an 11-2 spurt spanning the third and fourth quarters that helped Minnesota build an 11-point cushion and take control for good.
The Nuggets couldn’t match their sharpshooting or their energy they had 48 hours earlier when they walloped the Warriors 132-110 despite missing six players, including three starters.
Those three — Danilo Gallinari (groin), Emmanuel Mudiay (back) and Kenneth Faried (ankle) — also sat out this game, along with sixth man Wilson Chandler, who missed his second straight game due to illness.
Mason Plumlee, acquired for Jusuf Nurkic on Sunday, made his debut, starting alongside Jokic in the frontcourt. He had 11 points and nine rebounds.
Jokic was selected Wednesday to replace injured Joel Embiid at the Taco Bell Skills Challenge on Saturday in New Orleans. Jokic is one of just five players averaging 16 points, 8.5 rebounds and four assists. Among second-year players, Jokic ranks second in rebounding, third in assists and fourth in scoring.
“I’m just kind of perplexed why it took so long,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “That would be my question. I don’t know if many people in the NBA office have been watching the Denver Nuggets play. But I’m happy that they (saw fit) to recognize that and allow him to be the replacement.”
Timberwolves: On Feb. 24 host Dallas following the All-Star break.
Nuggets: On Feb. 23 visit Sacramento to open post-break play.
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