DENVER (AP) — Wilson Chandler made pivotal shots down the stretch for the Denver Nuggets — and Andre Miller bailed him out when he made a key miss.
Chandler scored 19 points, including a 3-pointer and three free throws late in the game, and the Nuggets held off the Minnesota Timberwolves 117-113 Friday night for their third straight win.
Miller helped the Nuggets keep the ball away from the Timberwolves in the waning seconds by rebounding Chandler’s missed free throw.
“I was happy when he got it. I just knew that last free throw (wasn’t) good,” Chandler said.
Minnesota got within 115-113 on a 3-pointer by Kevin Love with 18.9 seconds remaining.
Ricky Rubio then fouled Chandler with 15 seconds left. He made the first of two free throws, and Miller swooped in from outside the key to grab the rebound for the Nuggets. Miller was fouled and made one of two at the line to rebuild Denver’s lead to four points. The Timberwolves’ final shot in the last seconds was blocked by Kenneth Faried.
Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman complained that Miller left the 3-point line, where he was positioned, before Chandler took the free throw.
“It makes no sense why the league allows that to happen,” Adelman said. “It’s the only shot in basketball you can’t box out on. You can’t box him out. He’s at the 3-point line. They let him run in there, there’s a wrestling match in there. It’s just one of those things you have to deal with, but for all the stuff we change, we never look at that situation. Somebody will lose a big game in the playoffs and they’ll change something.”
Miller said the Timberwolves gave him a clear shot at the rebound by failing to cut him off.
“We found a way to get extra possessions,” Miller said. “We talk about those things in practice, and blocking out on our side. They didn’t do it. They kind of had their hands on their knees and I just kind of snuck in there just in case (the ball came out).”
Faried added 16 points and 10 rebounds for Denver, and Ty Lawson had 14 points and 10 assists. Lawson left with 32 seconds remaining when Corey Brewer inadvertently hit him in the right eye with his hand as he was defending the guard on a drive into the lane.
The Nuggets said Lawson had a cornea abrasion and was probable for Saturday night’s game at Houston.
“I should be ready. It looked a lot worse than it was,” said Lawson, whose eye was almost swollen shut after the game.
Love led the Timberwolves with 28 points and Kevin Martin, who missed Wednesday’s game against Cleveland because of an illness, added 27.
“A little bit unlucky,” Love said. “It was our defense all game. Our rotations weren’t there. We needed to help the helper, ball screen rotations, they were off all night but we were still right there at the end. We feel as if we can get a lot better with this team. It’s still mid-November and we’re going to get a lot better.”
Trailing by four at the half, the Nuggets opened the third with an 11-2 run, fueled by Jordan Hamilton’s 3-pointer. They carried an 86-81 lead into the fourth and stretched their advantage to 105-92 with 5:46 left when Miller had a 3-pointer and Faried jammed home a dunk in successive possessions.
The Timberwolves led 60-56 at halftime after trailing by as many as 14 points.
Notes: Timberwolves C Ronny Turiaf has missed eight games since he hurt his right elbow. There’s no timetable for his return. . . . The Nuggets were playing the front end of a back to back. They play at Houston on Saturday. . . . The Nuggets are 14-3 against the Timberwolves at the Pepsi Center since 2005-06 season.