The Denver Nuggets emerged with a hard-fought 119-113 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center on Wednesday night. The Nuggets did this without Carmelo Anthony, Al Harrington, Kenyon Martin or Nene playing in the game. Their absence manifested itself early on when the Timberwolves held a 30-23 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Nuggets shot only 32 percent from the field at that point.
However, Chauncey Billups turned into the hero with his season-high 36 points. He was 9-of-14 from the field (6-of-6 from beyond the arc) and made 12-of-13 free throws. For good measure, he added five assists and three steals. He did, however, also lead the team with five turnovers. Fellow point guard Ty Lawson contributed 19 points, five assists and five rebounds off the bench.
Melvin Ely and Renaldo Balkman benefited from the absence of the Nuggets' front court starters. Ely started the game and grabbed six rebounds (five offensive). Balkman played a season-high 19 minutes and contributed 10 points. Balkman accentuated his scoring with three thunderous dunks while going 4-5 from the field. Chris Andersen led the team in rebounds with seven. Shelden Williams, who has lost playing time to Andersen and Kenyon Martin, had four steals.
Michael Beasley scored 33 for the T-Wolves (8-25), and Kevin Love registered his 19th double-double with 26 points and 14 boards. Luke Ridenour also contributed 20 in the loss.
The Nuggets (18-13) are finished for the rest of 2010 and will start 2011 on Jan. 1 with a game against the Sacramento Kings.
Evan Pfaff contributed to this update.