Apr 26, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Denver Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson (3) shoots against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Greg Smith-US PRESSWIRE
The Denver Nuggets took advantage of Minnesota's annual April home court generosity by shooting 63 percent and driving away with a 131-102 win over the Timberwolves Thursday night. The win clinched the sixth seed in the playoffs for Denver.
Over the course of many years, the Minnesota Timberwolves have done one thing extremely well in the month of April since 2006 -- lose basketball games. According to NBA.com, since April 2006, Minnesota has a record of 1-28 at home in the month of April. On Thursday night at home against Denver, the Timberwolves didn't break from the trend, allowing the Nuggets to shoot 63 percent en route to a 131-102 win for Denver.
With the victory, the Nuggets clinched the sixth seed in the NBA playoffs, taking on the L.A. Lakers rather than facing the Oklahoma City Thunder, a task which will now fall on the shoulders of the defending-champion Dallas Mavericks as the seventh seed.
The game started close, as J.J. Barea (team-high 20 points) and Nikola Pekovic (18 points, 10 rebounds) each scored eight points, and the Timberwolves trailed by only four points after the first quarter. But without Kevin Love and Luke Ridnour, who both missed the game due to injury, as the reserves checked into the game for each team, the lead slowly got out of hand.
Corey Brewer, Andre Miller and JaVale McGee came into the game for the Nuggets, and they helped drive a 16-2 run early in the second quarter that made the difference. McGee was especially effective, scoring 19 points in only 18 minutes on 9-12 shooting from the field, with eight of those field goals coming at the rim.
Minnesota's defense was laughable, playing as if defense was an impediment to the opportunity to enhance offensive statistics, the Timberwolves gave up a stunning, jaw-dropping 80 points in the paint to the Nuggets.
Andre Miller led Denver with 10 assists in a little over 20 minutes, consistently finding players open near the basket, including McGee, who cashed in on three of those assists.
Part of the crew which was being deep-fried by the Nuggets attack was Brad Miller, who played in the final game of his career. Miller, a two-time All-Star in his 14th season, played 17 minutes and scored four points, grabbed four boards and dished out four assists in the blowout. Miller wept on the bench with a towel over his head briefly after coming out of the game.
A 19-point halftime lead became 24 points after three quarters, leaving the Nuggets with rookie Kenneth Faried as the only starter to play any significant fourth quarter minutes. Ty Lawson (15 points, four rebounds, four assists), Arron Afflalo (18 points, 7-12 shooting) and Danilo Gallinari (17 points on seven shots, three rebounds, four assists) had the entire quarter off, as Timofhy Mosgov was a perfect 6-6 for 13 fourth quarter points and Jordan Hamilton added eight points and five rebounds to effectively mop-up the win.
For all of Thursday's NBA box scores, check out SI.com's NBA scoreboard.