DENVER -- Winners 28 times in 31 home games this season, the Denver Nuggets' 111-88 victory over the Timberwolves at Pepsi Center on Saturday night not only extended their overall winning streak to seven games, it also guaranteed Minnesota wouldn't be the only repeat winners there this season.
Only defending champion Miami, the Wolves and Washington -- really, the Wizards? -- have won this season in Denver, where the home team relies upon the mile-high elevation and a crowded stable of athletes to run the opposition into exhaustion.
On Saturday, Nuggets guard Ty Lawson once again reminded Timberwolves Nation of its team failed draft history with another impressive performance -- 32 points -- that coincides (and then some) with his team's seven-game winning streak.
The Wolves, of course, traded the 18th pick in the 2009 draft to Denver and drafted Lawson for the Nuggets, a dozen picks after the Wolves took fellow point guards Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn fifth and sixth overall.
Lawson's point-guard play has pushed the Nuggets to a 42-22 record. On Saturday, he surpassed 20 points for the 19 time in his past 26 games, scoring 23 of his 32 points after halftime on a night when Denver put the visitors away with a 14-2 third quarter run.
The last time the Wolves visited Pepsi Center, they won 101-97 in overtime on Jan. 3, the night Kevin Love broke his hand for the second time this season and the Wolves won anyway.
This time, the Wolves played without two other starters -- center Nikola Pekovic and small forward Andrei Kirilenko -- and once again had just nine healthy players available.
Saturday's game kicked off a stretch where they play four sets of back-to-back games in the next 13. That first set ends Sunday against Dallas at home.
Wolves coach Rick Adelman is hopeful Love returns from his broken hand -- and perhaps Chase Budinger returns from knee surgery -- sometime in that time. Budinger consults by phone with his surgeon on Tuesday and Love visits his New York City surgeon on Wednesday, each seeking clearance to begin practicing.
"We'll probably get everybody back at the same time and then we'll have problems with minutes," Adelman said dryly.
Campaigning for Corey
Former Wolves forward Corey Brewer has found a home -- and a role -- in Denver.
And Nuggets coach George Karl suggested before Saturday's game that a guy he uses off the bench for his energy and defensive disruption should get some consideration for Sixth Man of the Year.
"He's had a great year," said Karl, who brings Brewer, Andre Miller, JaVale McGee and Wilson Chandler all off the bench. "He's going to get some votes from some people. He and Andre come off the bench and they're really good. JaVale's part of that and now you have Wilson, too. You have four guys who two years ago were starting for other teams and now we're bringing them off the bench. It's great for me."
Doing it all
Wolves forward Derrick Williams not only has put up four 20-point, 10-rebound nights in his previous nine games entering Saturday night.
He has also, because of his team's many injuries, turned into a guy who asked to defend LeBron James and Chris Bosh one game and Nene or Emeka Okafor the next.
"I'm playing out of position a little bit," he said. "It takes a toll on you, guarding those big guys each and every night. You can really see it takes a toll on all of us, a little undersized all of us. It's just one of those things."
Desperate times ...
The Wolves didn't hold their usual morning shootaround on Saturday, partly because they have just nine healthy players and partly because it's that time of year. The teams played each other for the final time this season on Saturday.
"I just feel better giving them their rest, get ready for the game," Adelman said. "It's the fourth time we've played there. There are no secrets. We know what they're going to do: They're going to come at you in waves and attack the basket."
-- Love, Kirilenko and Pekovic did not accompany the team on the quick one-game trip, but guard Brandon Roy did -- even though there's no indication he is close to ever playing again.
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