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News » Timberwolves' losing skid ends at 15 with 106-100 win in Denver

Timberwolves' losing skid ends at 15 with 106-100 win in Denver

Timberwolves' losing skid ends at 15 with 106-100 win in Denver DENVER -- Staring down a 14-point halftime deficit, and a 16-game losing streak, the Timberwolves somehow felt things were going their way.

Call it a hunch, a good one.

After intermission, Minnesota dominated the first-place Denver Nuggets and earned just their second victory of the season by rallying past their Northwest Division rival 100-106 on Sunday night at Pepsi Center.

"We had the mind-set that we were going to take it from them," rookie point guard Jonny Flynn said. "We knew this is the kind of team that can fall asleep, and we just took it from them."

Ryan Gomes scored 27 points, and Damien Wilkins recorded his fourth career double-double as the Timberwolves ended a 15-game losing streak, and ended the Nuggets' 17-game home winning streak. The Wolves started the second half with a 14-0 run, and outscored Denver 38-12 in the third quarter.

When Gomes scored consecutive baskets, the second on a perfect spin move in the paint, the Wolves had a 92-82 lead with 6 minutes, 48 seconds remaining, taking control of a fourth quarter for the first time all season.

At that point, it seemed clear the Timberwolves would not let the opportunity slip away.

"There haven't been too many times we've been in that position," Gomes said. "Once we got that lead in the fourth quarter, we knew we had to buckle down.

"We knew they could make some big shots and get the crowd into it."

The Nuggets pulled within four points twice -- the first time on free throws by Chauncey Billups, the second on a putback by Kenyon Martin -- but Minnesota countered each time with strong possessions, working the clock for driving layups by Flynn and Corey Brewer.

"There is a lot of relief in that locker room," Wolves coach Kurt Rambis said.

Minnesota hadn't won since a 95-93 victory over still-winless New Jersey (0-16) in the Oct. 28 season opener at Target Center. A loss Sunday would have tied the franchise record for consecutive losses, an ignominy suffered twice, first in 1992 and then between the 1993 and 1994 seasons.

But the Wolves didn't pay much attention to history.

"We just wanted to win," Flynn said. "I didn't even know about the streak until some guy from the media told me about it."

Surely the Timberwolves were going to win again, but the way they did it Sunday was most unlikely. They were awful in the first quarter -- "horrific," Rambis said -- and trailed by as many as 17 points in the first half, allowing the high-scoring Nuggets to shoot 51.1 percent from the field.

And yet their heads weren't down at halftime.

"We felt like if we could make some stops, they would let us back in it," said Wilkins, who had a career-high 12 rebounds and 15 points in a rare start. He all but iced the game when he was fouled on an 8-foot jump shot with 2 seconds left on the shot clock and 28.4 seconds remaining.

He hit both free throws for a 103-97 lead.

"It's just the NBA; you don't respect your opponent, and don't respect that they can get back in the game, these things happen," said Billups, who finished with 14 points but missed several decent looks from behind the three-point arc.

Minnesota is off until Wednesday, when the Wolves play host to Memphis.

"It's still a process," Rambis said. "Does this alleviate everything? No. But you learn lessons from losing, and you learn lessons from winning. I've maintained all season that if you play hard, play unselfishly and do the right things that good things will happen. This (victory) was a byproduct of that."

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Added: December 1, 2009


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