Timberwolves lose eighth straight
DENVER (AP) -- Chauncey Billups scored 26 points, J.R. Smith had eight of his 14 points in a decisive fourth-quarter stretch and the Denver Nuggets overcame poor shooting to hand Minnesota its eighth straight loss, 90-84 on Sunday night.
Carmelo Anthony added 14 points and 12 rebounds to help Denver improve to 5-1 since the Nuggets acquired Billups in the trade that sent Allen Iverson to Detroit.
Al Jefferson had 20 points and 14 rebounds, and Randy Foye added 18 points for Minnesota. The Timberwolves haven't won since beating Sacramento in their opener.
The Timberwolves led 65-56 before Billups hit two 3-pointers to spark a 9-2 run to end the third quarter, but the Nuggets went cold to start the fourth, going 2-for-12 from the field. Minnesota took advantage of Denver's struggles to build a a nine-point lead at 78-69 with 6:20 left in the game.
Denver roared back after a timeout. Smith hit two 3-pointers to spark a 12-2 run that was capped by Anthony's put-back dunk that made it 81-80 with 2:19 left.
After both teams traded missed shots, Billups hit his fourth 3-pointer of the night to give Denver an 84-80 lead with 51 seconds left.
Minnesota got no closer than four points the rest of the way.
Denver led 44-40 at half, but the Timberwolves were hot to start the third quarter. Minnesota started the second half shooting 7-for-11 and, led by Jefferson's five points, took a 56-49 lead with 5:53 left in the third quarter.
The Nuggets, who missed eight of their first 10 shots of the second half, played most of the third quarter without Anthony. Anthony picked up his fourth foul with 8:10 left in the period and went to the bench with seven points on 3-of-12 shooting.
The Nuggets used a balanced scoring attack to take an early 12-point lead, but the Timberwolves kept it close in the second quarter. Foye and Ryan Gomes hit 3-pointers to cut Denver's lead to 28-23 with 9:29 left in the first half.
The Nuggets built the lead to 10 again before Minnesota clawed back. Jefferson, held in check for the first 19 minutes, hit two baskets and Rashard McCants hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 39-38 with 2:54 left in the second quarter.
The Nuggets won despite a poor shooting night from Billups and Anthony, who were a combined 11-for-40 from the field.