DENVER — Paul Millsap followed one of his worst games of the season with his best, thanks to extra film sessions.
Millsap scored a season-high 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting, and the Nuggets bounced back from their first loss in the Northwest Division to beat the Timberwolves 128-116 on Sunday night.
Millsap had just two points in a 113-101 loss at Oklahoma City on Friday night but made a quick recovery. He hit his first six shots before missing with 54 seconds left in the first half.
“I watched a lot of film over the past few days, seeing how I can get better,” Millsap said. “I’ve been out of the lineup for a while, so trying to get back in rhythm and figure things out.”
Nikola Jokic was nearly as sharp, making all six of his shots in the first half and going 11 of 14 from the field. He finished with 24 points, and Jamal Murray had 19 on his 23rd birthday.
The Timberwolves had only nine players available. D’Angelo Russell sat out for rest while Karl-Anthony Towns is out for at least two weeks with a hairline fracture in his left wrist. Kelan Martin had 19 of his career-high 21 points in the first half for Minnesota, which has lost 31 of its last 37.
“That group played really hard. I’m really proud of our guys,” coach Ryan Saunders said.
It was the first game in Denver for Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez since the Nuggets traded them, along with Jarred Vanderbilt, to Minnesota on Feb. 6.
“It was like practice, it was weird,” said Beasley, who finished with 17. “It was cool to be out there and compete with those guys because we had that brotherhood for four years, so it’s a weird feeling.”
Beasley had 12 points at halftime but scored just five in the second half and was talking with his former teammates throughout the game.
“For some guys, that’s how we were raised, talking trash (to) get me going a little more, get my juice flowing,” Nuggets guard Monte Morris said. “Malik’s one of the trash talkers. We knew coming in he was going to be talking a lot.”
Denver shot 58.9 percent after hitting 68.2 percent in the first half.
“I remember looking up at one point in the first quarter with like three minutes to go and we were shooting 100 percent,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “I
don’t know if it was good offense or no defense.”
Minnesota stayed with Denver despite the short rotation and led 60-56 midway through the second quarter before the Nuggets used a 15-3 run to take a 73-65 lead at halftime. They stretched it to a 10-point advantage after three and opened up a 106-91 lead early in the fourth.
The Timberwolves scored nine straight to get back into it, but Denver went on a 22-2 run to put it away.