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Recap: Nuggets catch fire in Minnesota, beat the Timberwolves 110-101

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The Denver Nuggets get a road win against the Timberwolves behind the sharp-shooting of Arron Afflalo and excellent production from the bench.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets shot a season high 54.8% from the field en route to a 110-101 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.  It was one of the team's best offensive performances of the season and helped give the Nuggets their 2nd  win in a row.  Arron Afflalo came out firing in the first quarter, scoring from all angles including 3-for-3 from beyond the arc. His 20 first-half points helped the Nuggets take a 62-41 lead into half time.  The young and short-handed Timberwolves fought hard in the 2nd half but were never able to get within striking distance.

Bench Scoring

The Nuggets bench was absolutely dominant tonight, outscoring the Timberwolves' bench 47-10.  Coming into the season many people expected bench scoring to be the Nuggets' biggest strength.  Injuries and inconsistency have limited the team's success in that category but tonight their depth was on full display.

Jusuf Nurkic's Gravity

The brightest spot of the season has been watching the rapid development of Jusuf Nurkic.  We've seen the rebounding and passing throughout the season.  Against the Grizzlies we saw the shot blocking and tough defense on Marc Gasol.  Tonight Nurkic showed his ability to utilize his strength to establish deep post position and create "gravity" in the paint.  Spacing is one of the most important parts of NBA basketball and although the Nuggets shoot a high amount of 3-pointers, they rarely are able to properly space the floor because of a lack of inside post presence.  Efficient post scorers are able to create "gravity" and suck the defense in tight to prevent easy baskets. Tonight, Nurkic was able to score early in the post and force the Timberwolves to pack the paint just enough to get some great looks around the perimeter. I'm not sure teams will continue to help on Nurkic as much as the Timberwolves did tonight, but it was nice to get a glimpse of what might be the future of this Nuggets roster.

Arron Afflalo on Fire

Arron Afflalo had his jump shot working for him tonight. He poured in a season high 34 points including an array of difficult fallaway and turnaround jump shots.  Afflalo loves getting post position along the free throw line extended and tonight he was able to get the ball in that spot at will.  It helps that he started the game with a couple of open 3-pointers to get his rhythm started.  Afflalo provided the outside spark while Nurkic, JJ Hickson and Kenneth Faried provided the work inside.

Faried's energy

Speaking of Faried, it's safe to say that the Manimal is back.  Since having a sit down discussion with Brian Shaw two weeks ago, Faried has unleashed the Manimal and brought energy and hustle that few in the league can match.  Faried might never be a great post up scorer but over the last few weeks he's managed to make the most of his limited post touches while staying engaged away from the ball to position himself for offensive rebounds.  Nurkic and Faried showed some great chemistry today and Faried will benefit from Nurkic's low post passing if he continues to cut hard off of post entry passes like he did tonight.  Their talents are pretty opposite so it will be nice to see if they continue to figure out how to compliment each other.

Gallo is back

Okay, he's not back but it was nice to see Danilo Gallinari in high spirits during a half time interview.  He's such a big part of this team and it was nice to see him back, even if it was just for a half time interview.

Timofey Mozgov

Mozzie continued to struggle tonight and the frustration and lack of confidence is starting to pile on.  He's had his share of silly fouls and poor footwork in the post but he's also been on the wrong end of some very questionable calls lately.  I think his frustration is starting to spill over and it's effecting the way that the refs are calling him.  It probably doesn't help his confidence that Nurkic came in and played so dominant in the first half.  Despite his struggles he's still a very good Center and was a big part of why we were able to maintain our lead in the 2nd half.  He's got solid footwork on pick and roll coverage and when he can avoid fouls, he bolsters our defense quite a bit.  As much as Nurkic is looking like the Center of the future, Mozgov can still be a very important piece of this team and if the Nuggets intend to keep him, Shaw needs to figure out how to get his confidence back and keep him out of foul trouble.

More "Splits"

The Nuggets used a splits like action out of their post ups.  They haven't been going to it very frequently but tonight it must have been in the game plan because they ran it on several occasions. Tonight the screener came from the elbow and set the screen at the top of the key.  Usually this action is ran more from the elbow to the corner.  It's something to keep an eye on going forward and might be a new wrinkle that Shaw is looking to run.