Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 11/4

Game 1: Thursday, November 4th
Game 2: Friday, January 14th
Game 3: Wednesday, February 9th
Game 4: Friday, April 8th

Timberwolves 93

(18-17, 9-10 away)

Nuggets 83

(15-21, 11-9 home)

Coverage: KSTC

8:30 PM ET, January 14, 2005

Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

1 2 3 4 T
MIN 19 21 25 2893
DEN 20 20 21 2283

Top Performers

Min: L. Sprewell 29 Pts, 4 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Blk

Den: K. Martin 23 Pts, 6 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

Wolves overcome fight, Olowokandi's ejection

DENVER (AP) -- The Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets officially don't like each other.

Tension between the teams that started in last year's playoffs boiled over Friday night with a wild fight between Nene and Michael Olowokandi, adding another chapter to a rivalry that seems to grow nastier with each game.

"It was almost like a playoff finals game," Nuggets coach Michael Cooper said after Minnesota's 93-83 victory.

The Nuggets and Timberwolves played an intense, five-game series in the first round of last year's playoffs, pushing, shoving and jawing at each other until the final horn of the final game. They went at it again in the teams' first meeting Nov. 4 -- a 94-92 overtime victory for Denver -- with more elbows and technicals.

This time the bad feelings started in the second quarter, when Denver's Nene was called for a technical foul for elbowing Olowokandi under Denver's basket. The two tangled again with 7.1 seconds left in the third quarter, and this time it got ugly.

Fighting for position under Minnesota's basket, Olowokandi twice pushed Nene, who retaliated with a head-butt. Olowokandi started yelling at Nene, then pushed him in the face.

Referee Bennett Salvatore and players from both sides tried to separate them, but Nene charged in throwing punches, landing one to the side of Olowokandi's head. The two players then started flailing at each other in front of the scorer's table before finally being pulled apart and escorted from the floor.

"It's a physical game, and it should be played within the constraints of what the game allows legally, and the refs should stop it before it gets out of hand," Olowokandi said. "Head-butting crosses that line."

The Timberwolves seemed to get a boost from the altercation, stretching a four-point lead to 79-69 behind Troy Hudson and Latrell Sprewell. Hudson scored Minnesota's first seven points and Sprewell added five more, shaking his head as the crowd booed him back down the floor.

Denver fought right back, closing to within 80-77 to get the crowd into it, but Hudson followed with a 3-pointer to quiet them down. Minnesota started pulling away from there, with Sprewell hitting two more 3-pointers to put the T-Wolves up 91-81 with 90 seconds left.

Hudson scored 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and Sprewell had 13 in the final period for Minnesota, which won for just the third time in 12 games and ended a seven-game road losing streak.

And the Timberwolves did it without much scoring from Garnett. Last year's MVP took just 10 shots and finished with 15 points -- eight below his season average -- though he added 10 rebounds and seven assists.

"I think defensively we were good and we executed offensively," Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said. "Any time we got into a set, we got pretty much whatever we wanted."

Denver followed up one of its best games of the season against the Lakers two nights earlier by standing around on offense and allowing the Timberwolves to shoot 49 percent. The Nuggets have lost six of seven and have only been mildly better since Cooper was named interim coach, going 2-6.

Kenyon Martin led the Nuggets with 23 points and Marcus Camby added 12 points and 12 rebounds, but leading scorer Carmelo Anthony had another horrible shooting night against Trenton Hassell. Anthony was 5-for-25 in the teams' first meeting this season and wasn't much better this time, scoring 13 points on 5-of-18 shooting.

Anthony clearly became frustrated by Hassell's aggressive approach, continually forcing up shots and arguing with Cooper on the bench early in the fourth quarter. He left out a back door and avoided talking with reporters

"Melo was frustrated. He's not shooting the ball as well as he would liked to have shot it," Cooper said. "He has to understand that the great ones let game come to them when you are struggling. You can't force your game upon them."

Game notes

Former Nuggets star David Thompson attended the game. ... Minnesota's road losing streak was its longest since dropping the final 10 games in 1998-99, though the Timberwolves have an 8-2 road record against the West. ... Minnesota G Sam Cassell has missed four straight games, the last two because of a death in the family.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 93 83
FGM-FGA 35-71 (.493) 34-80 (.425)
3PM-3PA 10-23 (.435) 2-9 (.222)
FTM-FTA 13-16 (.813) 13-19 (.684)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 7-43 8-35
Assists 21 21
Turnovers 15 7
Steals 4 9
Blocks 6 2
Fast Break Points 9 10
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 25 (1/0) 18 (1/0)
Largest Lead 12 5

Top Performers

Latrell Sprewell Sprewell
Points: 29
Reb: 4
Ast: 3
Stl: 0
Blk: 1
Kenyon Martin Martin
Points: 23
Reb: 6
Ast: 1
Stl: 2
Blk: 1