In that game, Ty Lawson came off the bench for 16 points in a losing effort. Ricky Rubio didn’t play for Minnesota due to back spasms, and Kevin Love ended up leaving the game after fracturing his hand in the third quarter.
J.J. Barea led Minnesota to victory scoring 12 of his 17 points and adding five assists in the fourth quarter, helping to close out the game. It was a close contest with 14 lead changes, but the Nuggets’ poor free-throw shooting did them in as they only made 11 of 20.
They also couldn’t find a rhythm from beyond the arc, making only six of 22 attempts. That’s a whopping 27.3 percent. The Nuggets had a better percentage in field goals than Minnesota but lost the game.
I seriously doubt that Minnesota will have the same fortune tonight though. The Nuggets are seeking their eighth-straight win and their 13th straight at the Pepsi Center, and with Lawson starting this time, I expect this game to not be as close as the last.
The Wolves will also have to go without Love, Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic. With Rubio and Barea leading the way, there’s no way they’re coming into a blizzard-stricken Denver and winning this one.
If the Nuggets shoot like they did last game, 55.8 percent on field-goals, 47.8 percent on threes and 83.3 percent from the line, they will most likely destroy the Wolves by double-digits.
Danilo Gallinari looks to help in the effort after returning to form after a thigh injury. He is averaging a team-best 18.3 points on 54.3 percent shooting against Minnesota this season, and has been great over his last two games. Against the Los Angeles Clippers he had 20 points, six assists and five rebounds, and against the Sacramento Kings he had 23 points, four assists and four rebounds.
It’s important that Denver comes out and sets the pace and intensity of the game early. They cannot let up even though they know they are playing a team far from making the post-season. The Nuggets, at times, seem to let teams back into games — even lowly teams like the Wolves. They must establish a lead and keep adding to it the whole game, without showing the opposition any hope of getting back into it.
However, even if the game does end up being close, even if it does end up going the full 48 minutes, look for Lawson to keep up his hot play and put it away late.