Nuggets stay hot at home behind Lawson's 32

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- George Karl jumped from his seat, seething and on his way to a technical. As he angrily went after the referees for calling another offensive foul on Ty Lawson, Karl inadvertently shoved Wilson Chandler into the scorer's table.

After taking a look at what he did on replay after the game, Karl smiled and said, "I guess I owe Wilson an apology."

Karl has had little to be angry about lately. After Lawson equaled a season high with 32 points in a 111-88 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night, Karl's team has won eight straight and is getting hot with the playoffs six weeks away.

The Nuggets, who were 17-15 at one point, are 20 games above .500 and making the league take notice.

"The first half of the season there were worries in management, coaching staff if we were going to make the playoffs, but we've gotten into shape and we've been playing well," Lawson said.

The Nuggets have played especially well at home, where they've won 13 straight. The victory tied them with Miami for the best home record in the NBA at 28-3.

The Nuggets avenged one of three home losses with Saturday's win. The Timberwolves came into Denver and won 101-97 on Jan. 3, two days after the Nuggets stopped the Los Angeles Clippers' 17-game winning streak.

Since then, the Nuggets have won 18 of 19 home games and 24 of 30 overall and improved to 42-22.

History was set to repeat after Denver's win over the Clippers on Thursday, but the second half changed that.

The Timberwolves hung tough in the first half behind 10 points from J.J. Barea and nine from Mickael Gelabale. Minnesota forced 10 Denver turnovers and trailed 50-49 at the break.

Gelabale finished with a season high 19 points and Barea had 15.

Minnesota led early in the third before Denver took over. Andre Iguodala's block of Luke Ridnour's layup jump-started a 14-2 run that gave the Nuggets a 71-59 lead midway through the third quarter.

The lead was 10 when Lawson was called for his second offensive foul in a little more than a minute. The guard was ready to argue when his coach exploded off the bench.

"It got a little crazy out there," said Lawson, who had 23 points in the second half. "I was about to get my first tech ever, but coach beat me to it. It got a little heated; couple of calls questionable."

Ridnour hit the free throw to pull Minnesota within nine, but Denver scored the next eight points. Barea's 3-pointer in the fourth cut it to nine again, but Lawson's 3-pointer with 6:50 remaining gave Denver a 99-78 lead.

Lawson hit all six of his shots from the field and scored 14 points in the fourth quarter.

"They played with a lot of energy in the second half," Barea said. "Ty Lawson hit shots and it turned their way in the second half. They're attacking, they're running, they're running and they're running. You've just got to hold on."

The Timberwolves, meanwhile, have hit an extended rough patch. They were 15-14 after beating the Nuggets, but the win was costly. Leading scorer and rebounder Kevin Love broke a hand in the victory and hasn't played since. The injuries have mounted, leaving Minnesota with only nine healthy players Saturday, and it have gone 6-24 since Jan. 3.

"It gets tough on all of us, especially when you have nine (healthy) guys and you're going up against a team like this," Derrick Williams said. "It was tough, especially in their building. Their crowd gets behind them. Everything starts to snowball like it did tonight."

NOTES: Corey Brewer had 15 points off the bench for Denver. ... Forward Andrei Kirilenko (strained left calf) and center Nikola Pekovic (abdominal strain) will be checked by doctors early next week and might be back in the Timberwolves' lineup soon. Love is shooting and doing conditioning drills but hasn't been cleared to play. ... The Nuggets' 13-game home winning streak is the longest in one season since the team won 19 straight in the 1988-89 season. ... Entering Saturday, Minnesota guard Ricky Rubio averaged 10.2 assists and 6.8 rebounds in his previous five games. The high rebound total doesn't surprise Timbervolves coach Rick Adelman. "He doesn't watch the ball, he follows the ball," Adelman said. "Guards that rebound the ball, they see where the ball is coming. There are a lot of rebounds that aren't at the basket. They're 10 feet away or five feet away, and he tracks that and goes and gets it. That's one of the big differences in why he is getting rebounds."
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