The Denver Nuggets got by one of the Western Conference’s top teams to end a skid. Another matchup with the worst club in the conference should give them a good chance to get on a winning streak.
Denver can add to Minnesota’s woes as these Northwest Division opponents meet for the second time in just over a week Monday night at Target Center.
The Nuggets (14-20) took the first meeting of the season 106-102 on Dec. 26 thanks to Kenneth Faried’s season-high 26 points and career-best 25 rebounds. Denver improved to 24-6 in the series since April 2007.
The Nuggets went on to lose their next three before getting back on track with Saturday’s 114-85 rout of Memphis. Ty Lawson finished with 25 points and 11 assists and Arron Afflalo scored 23 as Denver shot 51.9 percent for its highest mark in 22 games.
"The guys are feeling pretty good about themselves," coach Brian Shaw said. "It’s something we have to build on."
The Timberwolves (5-27) can’t make the same claim. Minnesota has dropped 17 of 18 and is looking to avoid losing 12 in a row for the first time since closing the 2010-11 season with 15 straight.
Changes could be made to the starting lineup following Saturday’s 101-89 loss to Utah. Star rookie Andrew Wiggins stayed hot with 20 points, but the other starters combined for 33 and shot 11 of 30. Minnesota made 39.5 percent from the field overall.
The Timberwolves were outscored 57-40 in the second and third quarters, leaving them at 1-11 in their last 12 at home.
"That’s probably about as bad of a loss as we’ve had in a long time," coach Flip Saunders told the team’s official website. "To come out the way we did is uncalled for. We talked to our team afterwards just about what it is to be professional. It’s everyone’s responsibility. … I told our guys tonight to not think it can’t get worse. It definitely can."
Wiggins has been a rare bright spot with 21.2 points and 51.0 percent shooting in the last six. He’s been getting more and more involved with Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin out.
"When they come back it’s going to be great," said Wiggins, who scored 22 on Dec. 26. "Obviously we want them to get healthy as soon as they can, but as a player you can’t depend on them and wait for them, you have to try and still win games."
Slowing down Faried should be crucial if Minnesota hopes to regroup. He’s averaged 16.3 points and 15.7 rebounds in the last six games, up from his season marks of 11.8 and 8.5.
Faried has averaged 14.0 points, 10.4 rebounds and 64.2 percent shooting in 13 contests against the Timberwolves.
Lawson has scored 23.2 points and made 51.9 percent from the floor in his last five in the series, and averaged 22.3 points in his last six games overall. He’s a fan of Shaw’s recent plan to get rid of early morning shootarounds.
"I’m not going to lie, I’m loving (the afternoon shootaround)," he said. "I don’t understand getting up at 7:45 a.m. to do shootaround when you’re not going to remember it."
The Nuggets have been outscored by an average of 14.0 points during a seven-game road skid, their longest since an eight-game slide Dec. 17-Jan. 17, 2005.