By earning an impressive win despite the absence of their starting point guard, the Denver Nuggets continued to show why they're one of the best home teams in the NBA. A visit from the slumping Minnesota Timberwolves doesn't appear likely to change their status.
The Nuggets seek a ninth straight win at the Pepsi Center on Thursday night when they face the Timberwolves, who have dropped four in a row on the road.
While it's just 8-14 away from home, Denver has been superb on its own floor, going an NBA-best 10-1. The latest victory at the Pepsi Center was arguably its most noteworthy this season. The Nuggets ended the Los Angeles Clippers' 17-game win streak Tuesday with a stifling 92-78 victory.
Denver held the Clippers to 38.5 percent shooting and had six players in double figures even though Ty Lawson was out with tightness in his left Achilles' tendon.
"Everybody got a look at what we could do, how good this team is and how scary we are," forward Kenneth Faried told the team's website. "What better way to start the new year."
"We don't win this game without Andre," coach George Karl said. "He just got us easy baskets, got a lot of guys involved, gave our team a lot of confidence."
The Nuggets (18-15) would love to get Lawson back as he's averaging 20.0 points in his last nine games against the Timberwolves and had a team-best 24 in the most recent home matchup, a 113-107 win April 11.
However, the Nuggets might get by without him because Minnesota (14-14) heads into Denver having lost five of seven. The Timberwolves have also had little luck at the Pepsi Center, losing five straight and 10 of 11 there.
Minnesota is coming off one of its worst performances of 2012-13, shooting a season-low 34.5 percent and going 2 of 17 from 3-point range in a 106-84 drubbing in Utah on Wednesday. Kevin Love and Alexey Shved combined to shoot 7 of 24 (29.2 percent) and were the team's leading scorers with 13 points apiece.
"We need to take a rest right now and kind of get back on track,'' forward Andrei Kirilenko. "It's just one of those games where you can't make a shot five or six possessions in a row, you couldn't put it in on a layup, you couldn't get to the line. It's all together kind of like an avalanche."
Love had 34 points and 14 rebounds against Denver in his return from a broken right hand Nov. 21 but Minnesota lost 101-94. He missed 14 of 17 shots and scored eight points in the most recent matchup Dec. 12, but the Timberwolves edged the Nuggets 108-105.
Nikola Pekovic had a team-best 22 points and 11 rebounds for Minnesota, which beat Denver for only the third time in the last 23 meetings.
Gallinari had 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting in the last matchup, and is averaging 20.0 points and shooting 64.5 percent in his last three games in the series.