- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 5, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points and the Denver Nuggets easily won their seventh in a row, beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 110-87 on Sunday night.

The Nuggets extended their lead to two games over San Antonio for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference after the Spurs lost to Cleveland earlier in the day.

Sebastian Telfair had 18 points to lead the Wolves, who played without four of their top six scorers.

The game was essentially over by halftime, and it was a laugher by the fourth quarter with Anthony Carter lobbing alley-oop attempts to Sonny Weems. Anthony, who has scored at least 20 points in nine of his last 10 games, sat out the fourth.

Even Chauncey Billups had a rare dunk. He added 17 points and seven assists for the Nuggets, who led by as many as 32 and have beaten the Timberwolves nine straight times.

The depleted Wolves, already without regulars Randy Foye (hip) and Craig Smith (calf), also had to make do without star rookie Kevin Love and his strong inside presence thanks to a nasty flu bug. The patchwork Wolves were scrappy early, but simply overmatched. Minnesota built an early eight-point lead but the Nuggets pulled off a seemingly effortless 25-5 run spanning the first and second quarters, and the Wolves never recovered.

Minnesota pulled within six twice in the first half, but the Nuggets responded each time and built a 20-point halftime lead.

Notes:@ Nuggets F Kenyon Martin missed his second straight game with a left rib cartilage strain. … Wolves coach Kevin McHale said Smith is close to returning from a strained right calf. Smith and Foye missed their fourth straight games. … Minnesota hasn’t beaten Denver since Feb. 14, 2007.

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