Rookie Wiggins’ huge night leads Wolves past Nuggets
DENVER — Andrew Wiggins scored a career-high 31 points and Robbie Hummel had two big tip-in baskets in the fourth quarter, helping the Minnesota Timberwolves hold off the Denver Nuggets 113-105 on Saturday night.
The dynamic rookie out of Kansas was 11 of 17 from the floor, including four 3-pointers, as Minnesota improved to 4-16 on the road this season.
Hummel finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Thaddeus Young added 22 points.
The Timberwolves hardly looked weary down the stretch in the thin air of the Mile High City despite losing the night before in Phoenix. They’re now 2-7 on the second night of a back-to-back.
Ty Lawson led Denver with 22 points. The Nuggets lost the night before in Dallas, snapping a five-game win streak.
Jameer Nelson had 16 points in his home debut for the Nuggets. The diminutive guard was acquired Tuesday in a deal that sent Nate Robinson to Boston.
Wiggins’ big night also included nine rebounds and four assists. His previous high was 29 points against Sacramento on Nov. 22.
Hummel’s work around the rim propelled the Timberwolves down the stretch. His second tap-in off a miss by Young gave the Timberwolves a 96-95 lead with 5:25 remaining. Mo Williams kept the lead intact by hitting basket after basket each time the Nuggets made a run.
Wilson Chandler was fouled after hitting a 3-pointer. He missed the free throw, and Kenneth Faried tapped it in to make it 108-105 with 1:41 remaining. But Williams hit a 3-pointer to quiet the rally.
It was the Andrew Wiggins Show in the first half as the top pick in last year’s draft scored 19 points, helping the Timberwolves amass a 14-point lead.
Nelson received a round of applause when he took the court late in the first quarter. He received plenty more in providing a spark off the bench to help Denver take a 59-56 lead at the break.
"He’s a fire hydrant, a tree stump," coach Brian Shaw said of Nelson, generously listed as 6 feet tall. "He’s a tough, little guy that’s a smart basketball player, been in some big games."
Timberwolves: Coach Flip Saunders said guard Ricky Rubio still has soreness in a left ankle he sprained Nov. 7 at Orlando. "Are we being cautious? Yeah. We just signed the guy to a $55 million contract," Saunders said. "When he’s ready to go and the doctors say that he’s ready to really go, that’s when he’ll go." … G Kevin Martin (broken right wrist) and center Nikola Pekovic (ankle, wrist) are both nearing a return. Asked if they might play Monday, Saunders responded, "We’ll see." … F Shabazz Muhammad (strained oblique) missed a fourth straight game.
Nuggets: Lawson has struggled at the free throw line lately. His teammates haven taken to calling him "Ty Rondo" — a reference to Dallas guard Rajon Rondo, who’s shooting 30 percent from the line. "Hopefully that will light his fire a little bit at the free throw line," Shaw said. … G Randy Foye returned after missing 26 games with a right quadriceps injury. He was 0 for 3 from the field.
Minnesota plays at Charlotte on Monday.
Denver plays at Golden State on Monday.