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Nuggets take winning streak into Minnesota matchup

Denver in the midst of 7-3 stretch following 0-3 start



While the Denver Nuggets have turned things around following a slow start, the Minnesota Timberwolves are struggling to recapture their early season success.

The visiting Nuggets seek their season-high fourth straight victory and 23rd in 27 meetings with the Timberwolves, who hope to avoid their fifth loss in six games Wednesday night.

With Monday's 110-96 victory in Dallas, the Nuggets (7-6) moved above .500 for the first time following a sweep of the home-and-home set with the Mavericks.

J.J. Hickson finished with 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting and Ty Lawson scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half as Denver handed Dallas its first home loss.

''I just think that with time we are only going to get better,'' said guard Nate Robinson, who added 17 points off the bench. ''We are just trying to stay under the radar and win as many games as we can.''

Lawson, leading the team with a career-high average of 20.7 points, ranks among the league leaders with 23.7 points and 9.7 assists per game on the road. The point guard has put up a combined 35 points and 21 assists in his last two trips to Minnesota.

Hickson also has played well against the Timberwolves (8-8), totaling 30 points and 27 boards in his last two meetings dating to his time in Portland.

After averaging 93.3 points on 40.2 percent shooting in three straight losses to open the season, the Nuggets have found a rhythm by scoring 107.3 per game and hitting 46.3 percent of their shots during this 7-3 stretch.

They've also averaged 111.3 points and shot 50.8 percent while winning 10 of 12 in Minnesota. Denver is 22-4 in its last 26 overall against the Timberwolves following a 117-113 home win Nov. 15.

The Nuggets scored 61 in the second half of that game to overcome a combined 56 points from Minnesota's Kevin Love and Kevin Martin.

Love and Martin, however, teamed for 36 points while shooting 10 for 34 from the floor in a 98-84 loss at Indiana on Monday. Nikola Pekovic had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who missed 16 of 19 from 3-point range and shot 32.6 percent overall - their lowest mark in four years.

''We shot the ball poorly, plain and simple, and you are not going to win that many games doing that,'' said Love, one of eight players to play for the short-handed Timberwolves.

Luc Mbah a Moute, who played at UCLA with Love, might not be ready to help after being acquired from Sacramento for former No. 2 overall draft pick Derrick Williams on Tuesday.

Since averaging 108.5 points on 44.1 percent shooting during its 7-4 start, Minnesota has slumped with 98.8 points and a 39.0 field-goal percentage while dropping four of five.

Though he's averaged 18.8 points in his last six games, Martin has hit just 36.2 percent of his shots.

Martin was playing with Oklahoma City the last time these teams met in Minnesota. Pekovic finished with 22 points and 11 boards, helping the Timberwolves overcome Love's eight points on 3-of-17 shooting in a 108-105 victory Dec. 12, 2012.

Kenneth Faried led Denver with 26 points and 14 rebounds in that contest, and he's looking for his fourth straight double-double overall in this meeting.


NUGGETS AT TIMBERWOLVES


WHEN:
6 p.m. MT
WHERE: Target Center, Minneapolis.
TV; RADIO: Altitude; AM-950

PROBABLE STARTERS
DENVER (7-6)

F Wilson Chandler
F Kenneth Faried
C J.J. Hickson
G Randy Foye
G Ty Lawson

MINNESOTA (8-8)
F Corey Brewer
F Kevin Love
C Nikola Pekovic
G Kevin Martin
G Ricky Rubio

INJURY REPORT
DENVER:
Danilo Gallinari (knee) and JaVale McGee (fractured left tibia) are out.
MINNESOTA: Chase Budinger (knee) and Ronny Turiaf (elbow) are out.

SERIES NOTES
The Nuggets have won 22 of the past 26 meetings against the Timberwolves and 27 of 34 dating to the end of the 2004-05 season . . . Prior to the teams splitting 2-2 last season, the Nuggets had won five straight season series wins against the Wolves; they have now won six in the last eight years . . . On Dec. 10, 2008, former Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony tied an NBA record by scoring 33 points in the third quarter against the Timberwolves in Denver . . . In the first meeting between these teams in 2010-11, Kevin Love hung 43 points on the Nuggets to become the first ever Timberwolves player to score 40+ points against Denver during the regular season.