Jamal Murray scored 30 points, Paul Millsap had 23 and the host Denver Nuggets beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 133-107 on Tuesday night.
Nikola Jokic had 18 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and Monte Morris scored 16 off the bench for Denver, which had a season-high 40 assists.
Karl-Anthony Towns returned to the lineup with 34 points and 10 rebounds, and Tyus Jones scored 16 for the short-handed Timberwolves.
Towns missed Minnesota’s win over the New York Knicks on Sunday after injuring his knee the night before. The Timberwolves feared their franchise player might have suffered a torn ACL, but he was diagnosed with inflammation.
Minnesota was short-handed against the Nuggets even with Towns. Point guards Derrick Rose (right elbow soreness) and Jeff Teague (right foot inflammation) were out, as was Andrew Wiggins (thigh). Wiggins has missed the last three games.
Towns’ return couldn’t translate into a win against a Denver team trying to stay in the second spot in the Western Conference and possibly overtake Golden State for the top seed. The Nuggets (44-22) lead Houston by 2 1/2 games and are just one back of the Warriors.
Denver led nearly the entire game and by 10 at halftime before taking control in the third quarter. A 3-pointer by Dario Saric pulled Minnesota within 60-53 a minute into the second half, and it hovered near that margin before the Nuggets built a double-digit lead.
Denver was up 74-61 after Jokic tipped in a miss by Murray and Gary Harris drained a 3-pointer from the wing. The Timberwolves called a timeout but a turnover led to another Jokic putback, and then Murray drained a 15-footer to make it 78-61 with 6:15 left in the third quarter.
Towns got Minnesota back within nine on a layup, but Denver ended the quarter on a 13-6 run, topped by Millsap’s half-court heave at the buzzer that made it 94-78.
The Nuggets built a 19-point lead 3:53 into the fourth quarter, and the Timberwolves never got closer than 15 the rest of the way.
—Field Level Media