MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves needed something to feel good about as they enter a six-day All-Star break, and they earned it with a 117-90 rout of Denver at Target Center on Wednesday.
Until Wednesday, the Wolves had lost four consecutive games and six of their last seven since winning five of six and briefly creeping back over .500 for the first time since November.
In the past 10 days, they also watched that eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference slip further and further from sight, all the way to as many as seven games behind before they led the Nuggets 19-3 in Wednesday's opening five minutes and just kept going.
"Nice win to get before the break," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said.
They did it with star forward Kevin Love looking more active than he has since he fell hard to the floor last week against the Los Angeles Lakers. He missed two of three games because of a stiff neck, back and tailbone, as well as a bruised thigh sustained Friday at New Orleans.
The Wolves also did it with fellow starter Ricky Rubio -- normally a reluctant shooter -- asserting himself offensively by making his first four shots on a night when the Wolves burst to leads of 9-0 and 19-3.
Rubio finished with an 11-point, 12-assist game even though he left the game briefly when he was elbowed in the mouth eight minutes into the game. He needed five stitches to close a cut on his chin.
Love recorded 32 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in 37 minutes before he and Rubio sat the final eight minutes.
Wolves small forward Corey Brewer added 22 points on 9-for-14 shooting, many of which were fast-break dunks or layups. Included was yet another long touchdown pass he hauled in and converted on one of Love's ridiculous two-handed outlet passes heaved down the court.
Brewer also had five steals, two rebounds and an assist.
"We needed a game like that before the break," Love said. "We knew we needed a win, and we came and played hard and we never looked back."
The Wolves led by as many as 36 points and saw the chance for their most lopsided victory of the season -- 31 points at Philadelphia in January --vanish in the final minutes when Adelman emptied his bench.
"I don't know; 40 would be nice," Adelman said. "I would relax then. We have a tendency to give up points quickly."
The Wolves never did Wednesday, when they played without injured starters Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin. The Nuggets, meanwhile, finished a four-game road trip winless by playing without star guard Ty Lawson and four others, including exiled veteran guard Andre Miller.
The Nuggets (24-27) have lost six of their last eight games and nine of their last 13.
"There's really only one thing to say and that's, 'Thank God for the All-Star break,'" Denver coach Brian Shaw said. "That's all I can really say. We've been on a nasty slide this whole trip."
The Wolves don't play again until Wednesday against Indiana. The Nuggets next play Phoenix at home on Tuesday.
"It gives us a chance to press the reset button, kind of get away for a little bit and re-evaluate ourselves individually and as a team," Denver forward J.J. Hickson said after a 14-point, 13-rebound game.
The Wolves (25-28) moved back within three games of .500 and within six games of Phoenix in the chase for that final playoff spot. They also moved basically even with the Nuggets. The Wolves started the evening with both Denver and Memphis between them and the Suns.
"I don't focus on anything in the future. I focus on taking a break," Adelman said, referring to the Wolves' chances of making a playoff push when they return after Sunday's All-Star Game in New Orleans. "We know what we have to do. This was a very important game to get because we don't want to go on break losing five in a row, especially at home. It was an important game, but that's over with. We've got Indiana (at home) and a five-game road trip when we come back."
NOTES: Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman returned to coach Wednesday after he missed Monday's home loss to Houston because of what the team called "personal reasons." Those reasons, Adelman said, concerned wife Mary Kay's condition. Adelman missed 11 games in January 2013 while doctors tried to discover why she was suddenly experiencing seizures. "It's fine," he said. "I just had to take care of it." ... The Nuggets played without G Ty Lawson (fractured rib), G Nate Robinson (sprained knee ACL), G Danilo Gallinari (torn ACL) and G Javale McGee (tibia stress fracture). ... Timberwolves starting G Kevin Martin missed his third consecutive game because of a fractured thumb. He said it will be re-evaluated before the team leaves Feb. 22 for a five-game West Coast road trip and he is hopeful he will be cleared to play then. ... Timberwolves PG Ricky Rubio left the game in the first quarter with a cut on his chin after he was elbowed in the face by Nuggets G Randy Foye. Rubio returned to play in the second quarter.