Timberwolves hammer Grizzlies
MINNEAPOLIS — For at least one night, the Minnesota Timberwolves avoided playoff elimination.
Power forward Kevin Love recorded his second triple-double in four games, leading the Timberwolves to a 102-88 win over the Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday at Target Center.
Love finished with 24 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists in his third career triple-double. Point guard Ricky Rubio added 14 points — 13 in the third quarter as the Wolves (37-37) took control of the game — and shooting guard Kevin Martin scored 21 points as Minnesota broke a two-game losing streak and won for just the third time in its past 19 games against Memphis.
The Grizzlies (44-31) won each of their previous six games at Target Center.
Center Marc Gasol had 18 points and guard Courtney Lee had 14 for Memphis, which ended its five-game road swing with a 2-3 mark. The Grizzlies remain embroiled in a tight battle with the Dallas Mavericks and the Phoenix Suns for the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference.
With the Wolves up by 10 and less than nine minutes left in the game, Love and Memphis forward James Johnson became entangled under the Wolves’ bench. Love was called for a flagrant foul, Johnson for a technical. After all free throws were made, the Grizzlies were within nine points.
Memphis got no closer. The Wolves responded with a 17-6 run to go up 20 with less than three minutes left on two free throws by forward Corey Brewer, securing the victory.
Love scored 11 first-quarter points while all five Memphis starters scored in a first quarter that began with some cold shooting and ended in 20-20 tie.
A strong Wolves second unit started the second quarter very well. With rookie forward Shabazz Muhammad scoring six points, the Wolves used an 11-0 run to take a 31-22 lead on center Ronny Turiaf’s dunk with 7:44 left in the half. The margin grew to 10 on Martin’s layup.
Gasol scored eight points as Memphis drew within 44-41, but the Wolves scored the last four points of the half for a 48-41 lead.
With Rubio leading the way, the Wolves took control of the game in the third quarter. Rubio hit a 3-pointer and soon after made two free throws to push Minnesota’s lead to 13. Rubio’s fast-break layup increased the lead to 16 with 4:55 left in the quarter, and Minnesota was on top 77-61 entering the fourth.
NOTES: Memphis coach Dave Joerger admitted he didn’t really know which team to root for while watching Golden State’s thrilling victory over Dallas Tuesday. The Mavericks, Grizzlies and Warriors are all locked in a battle for playoff position in the Western Conference. “I didn’t know who to cheer for,” Joerger said. “But, just as a fan of NBA basketball, I loved the competition. It was a heck of a game.” ... After missing 19 games with a bone bruise on his right knee, Wolves backup center Ronny Turiaf returned to action Wednesday. It has been a very frustrating season for Turiaf, who missed 31 games earlier in the season with an elbow injury. “When something is taken away from you, you realize how important it is,” Turiaf said. ... Wolves C Nikola Pekovic missed the game with ankle Bursitis, an injury that has dogged him in the second half of the season. Wednesday’s game was the 20th he has missed this season, and the possibility remains that he will not play again this season. ... On Tuesday Wolves C Gorgui Dieng was named Western Conference rookie of the month for March.