Timberwolves-Nuggets Preview

The Minnesota Timberwolves have already proven to be one of the
NBA’s most potent offensive teams with Kevin Love performing at an
MVP level, not to mention the strong contributions from Ricky Rubio
and Kevin Martin.

Add in Corey Brewer playing the best ball of his career, and
Minnesota is even more dangerous.

Minnesota seeks its fourth win in five games Friday night when
it visits Brewer’s former team, the Denver Nuggets.

With a roster seemingly full of promise for a number of years,
the Timberwolves (6-3) finally appear ready to end the NBA’s
longest active playoff drought. They haven’t reached the postseason
since 2004, but Love has bounced back from an injury-riddled season
to fuel one of the league’s most surprising starts.

Love has scored 23 or more in all but one game, and his
points-plus-rebounds-plus-assists average of 46.4 leads the
league.

He’s also received plenty of help from Rubio, who tops the NBA
with 3.3 steals per game and is among the leaders with an average
of 9.7 assists. Martin is matching a career high with 24.6 points
per game, helping add energy to a team which is averaging 108.2
points and ranks second in fast-break points with 19.7 per
game.

Even with Martin scratched due to an illness Wednesday,
Minnesota earned a 124-95 home win over Cleveland. Brewer scored a
season-high 27 points in his absence, going 5 of 5 from 3-point
range after beginning the season 6 for 26. His 14.9 scoring average
and 50.0 field-goal percentage are career bests.

“I checked to see if it (said) Kevin Martin on the back,” said
Rubio, who had a career-high 16 assists. “He was wearing his jersey
or something. He was making shots and he was being Corey too,
running on the fast break. He’s been great for us.”

Martin practiced Thursday and is expected to play after dealing
with flu-like symptoms.

The Nuggets (3-4), who didn’t re-sign Brewer after he averaged
10.7 points in two seasons, have been mediocre against the fast
break, allowing 14.3 points per game. However, they have won three
of four and been better defensively, allowing their last two
opponents to average 90.0 points after given up 109.0 in the
previous four games.

Timofey Mozgov came off the bench to match a career high with 23
points – he had been averaging 8.2 – in a 111-99 home win over the
Lakers on Wednesday. Kenneth Faried finished with 21 points and 13
rebounds as Denver scored a season-high 60 points in the paint.

“We played big and pretty much just dominated inside and kept
the pressure on them by running the floor,” coach Brian Shaw said
after knocking off the team he played and served as an assistant
coach for.

Love had 34 points and 14 rebounds in a 101-94 home loss to
Denver last November, but he was held to a combined 20 points in
his two other matchups while shooting 7 of 30. Minnesota, though,
won both games as Love grabbed a total of 31 rebounds.

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson, who leads the team with 21.3
points and 7.3 assists per game, scored a career-high 37 in a
130-106 home win against Minnesota on April 9, 2011.

The Nuggets have won 11 of the last 13 meetings in Denver.