Johnson, Love keep Wolves undefeatedOct 13, 2010 - 3:43 AM By JON KRAWCZYNSKI AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Preseason means different things to different teams.
The veteran-laden Denver Nuggets are more concerned with keeping their legs fresh and getting healthy for the grind of the NBA season.
The success-starved Minnesota Timberwolves, they just want to win.
Rookie Wesley Johnson scored 16 points and the new-look Timberwolves remained undefeated in the preseason with a 122-108 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night.
Kevin Love added 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Timberwolves (3-0), who won just 15 games last season. They blocked 13 shots and forced 25 turnovers in the kind of defensive effort that hasn't been seen at Target Center for years.
"It means a lot. It doesn't mean enough though," said Michael Beasley, who scored 21 points on 6-for-17 shooting. "Preseason, regular season, postseason. It's basketball to us. We're going to play hard. We're going to play to win."
Carmelo Anthony scored 19 points for Denver, but was just 2 for 9 from the field. He went 15 for 16 from the free throw line. Arron Afflalo scored 20 points and Ty Lawson and Gary Forbes each chipped in 15.
Denver has won the past two Northwest Division titles and return most of the same faces from last season's team. That gave the Nuggets an entirely different approach to a game that means nothing once the regular season begins.
Anthony played only 21 minutes and the Nuggets rested Chauncey Billups. They also were without Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen, who are recovering from offseason surgeries, and Al Harrington, who injured his left foot in the preseason opener against Portland.
"We were just loose with the ball tonight," Anthony said with a shrug.
The fact they were playing a short-handed opponent means little to the Timberwolves, who are coming off one of the worst seasons in franchise history. Any success, against any opponent, is cause for celebration these days.
They beat the Lakers, who played Kobe Bryant just six minutes, in London last week and came back to beat the Knicks in Paris a few days later.
"Those are teams that have played together for a while," Love said. "We just want to get on the same page, learn to play with each other, but that's going to take some time."
The Wolves have done it early with a renewed commitment to defense and vastly improved shooting from the perimeter.
Martell Webster had 12 points and three big blocks, and Johnson went 3 for 5 from 3-point range. The Wolves have made 26 of 49 3-pointers (53 percent) in the three exhibition games after shooting 34 percent from behind the arc last season.
The Nuggets did most of their work from the free throw line, making 41 of 56 fouls shots.
"It was kind of a tough refereed game," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "We got the benefit at the free-throw line, and that's the one thing, but we didn't make 'em."
Both teams also got a taste of the crackdown on "overt" gestures toward officials in the second quarter. After a touch foul on J.R. Smith, point guard Luke Ridnour put his arms out and groused a little bit toward referee Nick Buchert. It didn't appear to be particularly egregious, but Buchert handed out the technical foul anyway.
It's all part of an effort by the league to demand more respect for game officials and cut down on the amount of complaining and bickering that happens during games.
Renaldo Balkman then got a technical in the fourth quarter for tossing the ball toward the Wolves bench in frustration after a 24-second violation.
It was the second shot clock violation of the game for the Nuggets, who shot 42 percent.
"I like what we do defensively," Wolves coach Kurt Rambis said. "We're going to win a lot of games if we continue to do that."
NOTES: Karl, who missed a portion of last season while getting treated for throat cancer, was sitting in the hallway talking to reporters when referee Monty McCutchen walked by and greeted him warmly to welcome him back. "I'm going to be yelling at you later," Karl said, wryly. McCutchen: "That's just fine. I look forward to it."
FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
DENVER 25 28 27 28 108
MINNESOTA 27 28 34 33 122 FINAL
HIGH SCORERS: DEN - ARRON AFFLALO 20, CARMELO ANTHONY 19,
TWO PLAYERS WITH 15
MIN - MICHAEL BEASLEY 21, WESLEY JOHNSON 16,
KEVIN LOVE 16
Oct 12 10:39 PM
MINNESOTA 89 END, 3RD QTR
Oct 12 10:07 PM
MINNESOTA 55 HALFTIME
Oct 12 9:19 PM
END 1ST QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
DENVER 25 25
MINNESOTA 27 27 END 1ST QTR
HIGH SCORERS AFTER 1ST QUARTER
DEN - CARMELO ANTHONY 9, ARRON AFFLALO 5, TWO
PLAYERS WITH 4
MIN - LUKE RIDNOUR 9, ANTHONY TOLLIVER 5, TWO
PLAYERS WITH 4
Oct 12 8:40 PM
- Timberwolves will not retain Newton, Kander May 20
- Towns, Porzingis unanimously selected to All-Rookie 1st team May 19
- After lots of losing, 76ers hope to win big in NBA lottery May 17
- Timberwolves' Towns is unanimous Rookie of the Year pick May 16
- T-wolves will send Towns with Flip's ring for lottery luck May 16
- Weekend Sports in Brief May 16
- AP Source: Karl-Anthony Towns is NBA Rookie of the Year May 15
- Zach LaVine wins NBA Cares Community Assist award for April May 9
- Thibodeau's role w/Wolves: 'It's about alignment, not power' Apr 26
- Timberwolves hire Thibodeau as coach/president, Layden is GM Apr 20
- Minnesota Timberwolves hire Tom Thibodeau as coach and president, Scott Layden as GM Apr 20
- Tuesday's Sports in Brief Apr 20