Bulls rough up Wolves
MINNEAPOLIS — Chicago forward Joakim Noah delivered his fourth triple-double game of the season and teammate D.J. Augustin scored 21 points off the bench to lead the Bulls to a 102-87 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night at the Target Center.
The victory was the Bulls’ sixth in a row. They have not lost since March 28 to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Noah’s 15-point, 13-rebound, 10-assist night was the seventh triple-double of his career and his first this season since a March 5 game against the Detroit Pistons.
The four triple-doubles this season tied Indiana’s Lance Stephenson for most in the NBA this season.
Augustin scored 14 of his 21 points in the first half and then starting point guard Kirk Hinrich had nine of his 16 in a transformational third quarter when the Bulls turned a five-point halftime deficit into a 70-62 lead that expanded to as much as 16 points in the fourth quarter.
Three-time All-Star Kevin Love’s 17 points and 10 rebounds led the Timberwolves.
Until Wednesday, the Timberwolves had won two of their last three games — a double-overtime victory at Miami on Friday and a thumping of San Antonio at home on Tuesday night — even though they played with five players out with injuries and the Bulls had not played since Saturday’s victory at Washington.
The Timberwolves led 14-9 early, 41-32 midway through the second half and 53-48 at halftime, but they were outscored 22-9 to start the third quarter.
By then, the Bulls had turned that five-point halftime deficit into a 70-62 lead with 2:53 left in the third quarter.
Hinrich had nine of his 16 points in the third quarter after scoring just seven before halftime.
The Bulls outscored the Timberwolves 27-17 in the third quarter and took a five-point lead into the fourth quarter before they ran the lead to double digits in the next four minutes.
Notes: Timberwolves reserve G JJ Barea missed Wednesday’s game because of neck and back spasms, an absence that left his team will only starter Ricky Rubio and combo G Alexey Shved left as options at that position. The Timberwolves again played without injured C Nikola Pekovic (foot), G Kevin Martin (foot), F Chase Budinger (sprained ankle) and F Shabazz Muhammad (sprained knee). ... Newly signed Bulls G Ronnie Brewer was in uniform Wednesday but was not expected to play. The Bulls signed Brewer on Monday after they waived rookie forward Erik Murphy last week to open a roster spot. “We’ll see how it unfolds but the rotation is pretty much set right now,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. ... Timberwolves star Kevin Love called his performance in Tuesday’s home blowout victory over San Antonio “terrible” for his 5-for-15 shooting night. It was an evaluation that left Thibodeau puzzled. “I saw his interview after the game where he said he didn’t play well and I’m watching it and you beat San Antonio by 20 points,” Thibodeau said. “You have 19 (points), 12 (rebounds) and four (assists), looks pretty good to me. I think that’s what makes him special.”