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01/04/2013 1:01 AM EST
Barea leads T-Wolves to 101-97 win over Nuggets
MINNESOTA 101, DENVER 97

By PAT GRAHAM
AP Sports Writer

DENVER (AP) -- Not even a sprained finger to their All-Star
forward could spoil this win for the Minnesota Timberwolves.



And it definitely made up for the clunker they turned in the
night before - as much as it can, anyway.



J.J. Barea scored 12 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter
while Kevin Love sat on the bench with an injured finger,
lifting Minnesota to a 101-97 win over the Denver Nuggets on
Thursday night.



The Timberwolves were playing for the second straight night, but
fatigue hardly appeared to be a factor as they handed the
Nuggets a rare home loss.



"Awesome," Barea said. "We came in ready today."



The Nuggets? Not so much.



Denver looked lethargic two days after snapping the Los Angeles
Clippers' 17-game winning streak.



That bothered coach George Karl - a lot.



"We gave one away tonight," said Karl, whose team drops to 10-2
at home this season. "It wasn't our defense, it was our
lackadaisical effort, our urgency, like this game doesn't mean
as much as the Clippers game."



The contest went back and forth in the final quarter before Luke
Ridnour gave the Timberwolves the lead for good on a 3-pointer
with 2:43 remaining. Barea then followed with another 3 to
cement the win.



"It was good to hit some shots. We've been struggling to hit
shots as a team," Ridnour said. "To be able to get going like
that feels good."



Especially with Love only able to watch after leaving with a
sprained finger on his right hand in the third quarter. Love
broke the same hand in October, missing the opening nine games
of the season, and has struggled to get on track with his jumper
ever since.



On the play in which he was injured, Love appeared to be sliding
past a Nuggets player in the lane when he suddenly clutched at
his hand before heading into the training room. Love had 12
points and 17 rebounds in nearly 24 minutes.



He later returned to the bench to support his teammates.



"He said he could have played, but he couldn't shoot," coach
Rick Adelman said.



The Nuggets may have been more flustered by the loss of Love
than the Timberwolves. The quickness of Ridnour and Barea gave
Denver fits.



"I think Minnesota at times plays better without Love," Karl
said. "They're kind of a machine-like offense. They give guys
different opportunities. But they're pretty good."



No one more than Barea, who found his touch late in the game.



"I got on a good rhythm there and kept attacking," he said. "It
worked out for us."



Did it ever and makes what happened in Utah all the more
puzzling. The Timberwolves were blown out 106-84 in a rather
uninspiring effort.



"You're going to have a couple of games a year like we did in
Utah," Ridnour explained. "You just don't want to have too many
of them. Fortunately, everybody bounced back today. We got a big
win in a really tough place to play."



Despite the loss, it was a big night for the usually modest
Andre Miller, who scored the 15,000th point of his career on a
mid-range jumper in the first quarter. He became only the eighth
player to reach that scoring plateau while also compiling 7,500
career assists. Oscar Robertson, Gary Payton, John Stockton,
Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd and Steve Nash also
accomplished the feat.



In typical Miller fashion, the 36-year-old downplayed the
approaching milestone before the game.



"A big individual accomplishment ... I try not to dwell on it,"
said Miller, who finished with 11 points and 10 assists. "I
never even thought about it. It's good to get it over with."



Miller started the game in place of Ty Lawson, who's still
recovering from a strained left Achilles tendon. Lawson sat out
Tuesday when the Nuggets beat the Clippers and has been bothered
by tightness in the tendon for the past week.



The speedy point guard provided a spark off the bench against
Minnesota - the first time in nearly two years that Lawson
entered a game as a reserve. He and Kosta Koufos each finished
with 16 points for Denver.



The Timberwolves were without point guard Ricky Rubio, who has
been dealing with back spasms and remained in Minnesota during
the two-game swing through Utah and Denver. The team is being
cautious with Rubio, who is coming back from a torn ACL in his
left knee. Minnesota hopes to have Rubio back Saturday against
Portland.



NOTES: The Pepsi Center hasn't been kind to Love, who sustained
a mild concussion and neck strain after a hit to the head in a
game against Denver last April. ... The Timberwolves had six
players score in double figures. Alexey Shved also had 17
points. ... Denver is 4-13 this season when allowing 100 or more
points. ... Asked about the chances of the Denver Broncos making
the Super Bowl, Karl said, "I like them."

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