Nuggets' Lawson scores career-high 37
Lawson, who was banged up from Denver’s rough-and-tumble loss at Oklahoma City one night before, didn’t score until sinking a pair of free throws at the 6-minute mark of the second quarter.
He then hit 10 of 11 from beyond the arc, including six during a 9-minute stretch spanning halftime that turned a tight game (41-39) into a laugher.
“I just got hot,” Lawson said before walking off the court.
He sank two more 3-pointers during a 10-0 spurt that made it 92-62 late in the third quarter. After Lawson’s ninth 3, the public address announcer simply said, “Wow.”
Next time downcourt, Lawson did it again, making it 100-66.
Lawson missed a running 28-foot heave, though, as the third quarter ended with Denver ahead 101-69.
Had he not tried the buzzer-beater and finished 10 for 10, it would have been an NBA record for most 3-point conversions without a miss. Latrell Sprewell went 9 for 9 from behind the arc for the New York Knicks in a game against the Los Angeles Clippers in 2003.
Lawson did manage to outscore the Timberwolves by himself, 24-18, in the third quarter.
Denver’s 19 3-pointers in 38 attempts was a franchise record. J.R. Smith (18 points) was 6 for 12 from 3-point range.
“We just found our rhythm,” Lawson said.
Lawson’s previous career high was 28 points, set just five nights earlier in a loss to Oklahoma City.
“I’m celebrating this one,” Lawson said.
The Nuggets improved to 17-6 since trading away All-Star Carmelo Anthony, although two of those losses came in a four-day span against the Thunder, including a 104-89 loss Friday night at Oklahoma City, Denver’s possible first-round playoff opponent.
Denver coach George Karl said before the game his deck was even lighter than usual with forward Wilson Chandler (left ankle) joining forward Arron Afflalo (left hamstring) and centers Timofey Mozgov (left knee and ankle) and Chris “Birdman” Andersen (right ankle) on the sideline.
It didn’t take long for guard Danilo Gallinari to join them.
He sprained his right ankle with 1:06 left in the first quarter and didn’t return. X-rays were negative and the Nuggets said Gallinari was day-to-day.
Eight Nuggets and seven T-Wolves scored in double figures. Raymond Felton had 11 points and 14 assists for Denver.
Denver, the NBA’s top-scoring team with a 107-point average, had been held below 100 in four of its last five games before breaking out against the T-Wolves.
After Wesley Johnson’s 3-pointer pulled Minnesota to 43-42, the Nuggets took control with a 17-2 run fueled by a couple of 3s from Lawson. He added another that gave Denver a 65-51 halftime lead.
They led by 35 in the second half.
NOTES: Nene missed all eight of his free throws, all in the first half, but he was 5 for 5 from the floor for 10 points. ... Since 2004-05, the Nuggets are 21-4 against Minnesota. ... Lawson also tied his career high with seven rebounds.