Although their five-game winning streak ended when they finally cooled off, the Denver Nuggets might be able to bounce back offensively while facing the league’s worst defensive team.
Denver seeks its fourth consecutive home victory and sixth win in seven games overall Saturday night when they try to beat the Western Conference-worst Minnesota Timberwolves for the third time this season.
The Nuggets were riding high while averaging 109.8 points – 8.3 more than their season mark to that point – and shooting 51.5 percent during a season-high-tying run before connecting on just 41.0 percent in Friday’s 97-89 loss at Dallas.
Starters Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Wilson Chandler and Jusuf Nurkic went a combined 14 for 49 (28.6 percent) from the field as Denver fell behind by as many as 16 points two days after a 114-107 home win over the Mavericks.
”The ball wasn’t going in the rim either from the free throw or from the field,” Lawson said. ”We got the shots we wanted. Nobody was forcing shots or anything. They just didn’t fall.”
Lawson had 11 points while missing 10 of 13 shots Friday, but he’s scored 25.7 per game in his last three at home. Afflalo has totaled 28 on 10-of-28 shooting in two games since averaging 23.0 and shooting 55.3 percent in his previous five.
Denver (18-21) may be able to rediscover its shooting touch as it looks to match its longest home winning streak. Minnesota has surrendered a league-high 108.2 points per game en route to a West-worst 6-32 record.
After snapping a 15-game skid at Indiana on Tuesday, the Timberwolves let Phoenix score 64 points in the paint and shoot 55.2 from the field overall in Friday’s 110-99 road defeat. They also were outrebounded 46-36.
Minnesota allows an NBA-high 48.2 paint points per game, while Denver is eighth inside with an average of 44.8. Kenneth Faried had 26 points and 25 rebounds in a 106-102 home win over the Wolves on Dec. 26 as the Nuggets owned a 62-44 edge on the glass.
Afflalo then finished with a season-high 34 points in a 110-101 road win Jan. 5.
The Nuggets have also limited the injury-ravaged Timberwolves to 41.1 percent shooting in the two meetings.
Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins has been a tough matchup, totaling 42 points and 12 rebounds while going 4 for 8 from 3-point range. The rookie also is averaging 20.6 points and shooting 40.6 percent from beyond the arc in his last 12 games.
Backcourt mate Mo Williams has been as hot as anyone in the league, going 11 for 23 from 3-point range in the past two games. He had the most points in the NBA this season Tuesday with a team-record 52 before scoring 26 in Phoenix.
‘They trapped me every time,” Williams said Friday after committing five turnovers. ”They had a game plan and I just had to make plays out of it.”
Gorgui Dieng has done his best to keep Denver off the boards, racking up 36 points and 25 rebounds in the two meetings.
Already playing without injured starters Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin, Minnesota now is expected to be without Shabazz Muhammad for at least two weeks due to an abdominal strain.
The Timberwolves have dropped 13 of their last 16 trips to Denver.