(Sports Network) – Carmelo Anthony finished with 24 points, as the Denver Nuggets withstood a late Minnesota charge and a huge night from Kevin Love to earn a 115-113 victory over the Timberwolves.
Ty Lawson added 23 points and nine assists for the Nuggets, who have won three of five. J.R. Smith provided 18 points off the bench in the victory.
Love posted a career-high 43 points and pulled down 17 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who scored the final seven points of the game but came up a basket short.
Michael Beasley added 17 points for Minnesota, which suffered its fifth consecutive loss. The last four of those setbacks have come by single digits.
“It’s very frustrating, just because we are right there,” Love said. “We keep saying that, just can’t get to it yet. But the key word is yet. We will get there.”
Smith’s three-pointer with 1:12 remaining gave Denver a 115-106 lead, but the Timberwolves wasted just six seconds before Beasley sank a runner as he was fouled.
Beasley made the free throw, and after Smith lost the ball, Corey Brewer was fouled and sank both his attempts to get Minnesota within 115-111 with 50.1 seconds to play.
Another Nuggets turnover — Luke Ridnour stole the ball from Anthony — led to Martell Webster’s jumper with 27.3 seconds still on the clock. But Denver took care of the ball on its next possession, and though Anthony missed his jumper with under four seconds left, the Timberwolves didn’t get another shot.
Despite the close finish and the fact that the Nuggets almost blew a 20-point lead, Lawson said he was fine with the outcome.
“I’d rather win ugly than lose pretty, so I mean, I’ll take the win,” Lawson said. “We’ve got to focus on closing games, but I’ll take a win like this any time.”
Arron Afflalo scored 10 points in the first quarter to help the Nuggets take a 35-27 lead. Denver led throughout the second and held a 62-50 advantage at the break.
The Nuggets led by as many as 20 in the third quarter before carrying an 88-75 lead to the fourth, but Minnesota came alive thanks to Love, who poured in 17 points in the final period.
Denver was still up by double digits when Gary Forbes’ dunk made it a 104-93 game with seven minutes left, but the Timberwolves scored the next four and were within single digits the rest of the way.
Minnesota held a 49-35 rebounding advantage, but turned the ball over 17 times, leading to 28 Denver points…Lawson tied his career high for assists…Love’s previous career high for points was 33, which he scored against the Knicks on December 6…Afflalo finished with 17 points.