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Denver at Minnesota

Nuggets win again, extend lead over Spurs for West's No. 2 seed

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The most telling moment of Denver's easy victory Sunday night came at the end of the third quarter when Chauncey Billups recorded his first dunk of the season and was mobbed by his giddy Nuggets teammates at halfcourt.

Everything seems to be going right these days for the Nuggets, who are playing focused and putting themselves in position to do some damage in the playoffs.

Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points and Denver cruised to its seventh win in a row, beating the Timberwolves 110-87 on Sunday night. Thanks to San Antonio's loss to Cleveland earlier in the day, Denver quietly extended its lead to two games over the Spurs for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.

"We just wanted to come out here tonight and pretty much take care of business, not sleep on a team like the Wolves," Anthony said.

With Minnesota missing four of its top six scorers, the Nuggets could have easily taken a victory for granted. Instead, they zapped Minnesota's energy early with intense defense and zipped the ball around well on offense, finding cutting teammates and shooting 53 percent from the floor.

"We played both ends of the court at a high level," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "We had different players offensively get hot."

The game was essentially over by halftime, and it was a laugher by the fourth quarter with Anthony Carter lobbing alley-oop attempts to Sonny Weems. Anthony, who has scored at least 20 points in nine of his last 10 games, sat out the fourth.

"We tightened up, buckled down and the defense was great," Billups said. "A lot of players played well. It was good."

Sebastian Telfair had 18 points to lead the depleted Wolves. Already without regulars Randy Foye (hip) and Craig Smith (calf), Minnesota also had to make do without star rookie Kevin Love and his strong inside presence thanks to a nasty flu bug.

Minnesota looked nothing like the team that stunned Utah on Friday night.

"It's no excuse," Telfair said. "We just went into Utah and beat Utah. ... There's no giving up here, but guys probably could have played a lot harder tonight, especially at home."

The Wolves shot 41 percent, but went to the line only 11 times while Denver hit 20 of 31 free throws and 10 3-pointers.

Billups added 17 points and seven assists for the Nuggets, who led by as many as 32 and have beaten the Timberwolves nine straight times.

His dunk came on a fast break after a turnover.

"My kids were talking stuff to me because they didn't think I could dunk no more," the former Wolves guard said. "I hope my little girl's watching this game right now because if not, she may not see it again."

The patchwork Wolves were scrappy early, but simply overmatched. Minnesota built an early eight-point lead but the Nuggets pulled off a seemingly effortless 25-5 run spanning the first and second quarters, and the Wolves never recovered.

Minnesota pulled within six twice in the first half, but the Nuggets responded each time and built a 20-point halftime lead.

"They just put it on us pretty good all night long," Wolves coach Kevin McHale said. "We didn't have too much we could do about it."

Notes

  • Denver is 29-6 against sub-.500 teams.
  • Nuggets F Kenyon Martin missed his second straight game with a left rib cartilage strain.
  • McHale said Smith is close to returning from a strained right calf. Smith and Foye missed their fourth straight games.
  • Minnesota hasn't beaten Denver since Feb. 14, 2007.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Chauncey Billups (17 points) and the Nuggets have an easy time routing the depleted T-Wolves.  (AP)
Chauncey Billups (17 points) and the Nuggets have an easy time routing the depleted T-Wolves. (AP)

Scoreboard
Denver (52-26) «27332723110
Minnesota (22-55) 2020222587
DEN:C. Anthony 23 Pts
DEN:C. Andersen 8 Reb
DEN:C. Billups 7 Ast
MIN:S. Telfair 18 Pts
MIN:S. Williams 12 Reb
MIN:M. Miller 6 Ast
Players of the Game
MinnesotaDenver

S. Telfair

C. Anthony
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
18132384
Denver
C. Anthony, SF3110-212-284123
C. Billups, PG306-103-337317
Nene, PF304-64-572312
D. Jones, SG192-42-21216
J. Petro, C31-10-02012
C. Andersen, PF251-11-28013
R. Balkman, PF233-32-35018
L. Kleiza, SF225-91-242114
J. Smith, SG204-111-252312
A. Carter, PG183-40-22227
S. Weems, SG101-32-62224
J. Hart, PG80-22-21002
K. Martin, PFDid Not Play
S. Hunter, PFDid Not Play
Totals 40-7520-31482319110
 53.3%64.5% 
Minnesota
R. Carney, SF366-132-221316
R. Gomes, PF316-181-131113
M. Miller, SF303-81-210627
K. Ollie, PG231-41-23413
K. Love, PFDid Not Play
S. Telfair, PG348-170-013418
S. Williams, PF296-122-2120414
J. Collins, C190-22-21022
M. Madsen, PF150-30-03020
B. Brown, PG155-80-012212
B. Cardinal, PF91-20-01112
A. Jefferson, PFDid Not Play
R. Foye, PGDid Not Play
C. Smith, PFDid Not Play
C. Brewer, SFDid Not Play
Totals 36-879-1137182287
 41.4%81.8% 
Other Games
SA 81 Final
Cle 101
Pho 116 Final
Dal 140
Char 97 Final
Det 104
NY 112 Final
Tor 103
Utah 108 Final
NO 94
Port 88 Final
Hou 102
Ind 117 Final
OKC 99
Phi 67 Final
NJ 96
GS 105 Final
Sac 100
LAC 85 Final
LAL 88