Timberwolves pick up another blowout victory
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Timberwolves can’t win by a little so far this season, but they sure can win by a lot.
They showed that again on Friday night with a 119-92 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats at the Target Center.
The Wolves’ 104-103 loss to Phoenix on Wednesday night was yet another victory that got away — at least the fourth in three weeks against a team they’re chasing for playoff spots in the Western Conference — and it caused all kinds of consternation in its aftermath.
After Wednesday’s game, Timberwolves forward Kevin Love blasted two unnamed teammates for sulking on the bench during timeouts late in the game.
On Thursday, Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman had a sit-down with veteran reserves J.J. Barea and Dante Cunningham in which both players admitted the error of their ways. Love got a lecture about airing private team matters publicly.
“In this age, you have to figure out how you say it because it’s going to be there forever,” Adelman said before the game. “We dealt with it and talked about it. Now we just trying to figure out how to win a game tonight.”
On Friday night, they did, turning what Adelman called the proverbial “page” by moving forward with a healing romp in which they led by as many as 31 points in the second half.
Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic delivered a dominant 26-point, six-rebound performance before he sat the entire fourth quarter with the outcome no longer in doubt.
Love added 19 points and 14 rebounds and forward Kevin Martin scored 19 before both sat all or most of the fourth quarter.
Former Wolves forward Anthony Tolliver led the Bobcats with a 21-point night in which he made 7 of 7 shots fromt he field — including all five 3-point shots he took — off the bench.
The Timberwolves are 0-10 in games decided by four or fewer points, but they now are 8-2 in the next game after suffering such a defeat. They also lead the league in games won by 20 points or more.
That number is now eight this season after Friday night’s victory. That’s one more than San Antonio’s seven.
The Timberwolves scored 39 points in the second quarter alone and 68 in the first half and led by 20 at halftime before they pushed their lead to as many as 31 points in the third quarter.
The Timberwolves did so with a 39-20 second quarter and a 27-22 third quarter in which Pekovic scored 15 of 26 points before he and every starter other than Love sat down for the entire fourth quarter.
On Friday morning, Bobcats center Al Jefferson called Pekovic a “beast” and Pekovic proved Jefferson right by scoring at will around the basket on a night when he outscored Charlotte’s undersized center 26-8.
Pekovic scored 15 of the Wolves’ first 18 points in that third quarter — matching the most he has scored in a quarter during his four-year NBA career.
Love outrebounded the entire Bobcats team 9-8 in the first quarter.
Notes: Charlotte second-year F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is expected to return on Tuesday night for a game against the New York Knicks, six weeks after he fractured a hand. He practiced the last two days. “He’d like to play tonight, but Tuesday will be six weeks, which gives us the most confidence that he’d be fully healed,” coach Steve Clifford said. ... Timberwolves F Chase Budinger played in his second game back from October knee surgery, the second on his torn meniscus in 11 months. He’s on an 18-minute limit for his first two weeks back. ... Budinger’s return makes the Wolves completely healthy for the first time since March 3, 2012, in Rick Adelman’s first season as Timberwolves coach. ... Former Wolves star Al Jefferson returned to Target Center for the first time since he left Utah and signed as a free agent with the Bobcats last summer. ... Timberwolves little-used rookie Shabazz Muhammad was named to the NBA Developmental League’s Reno Showcase all-tournament team after averaging 23 points and nine rebounds in two games while on a four-game assignment to the Iowa Energy. “He’s doing a good job,” Adelman said. “He’s aggressive, getting a chance to play, getting some confidence. It’s going to be good having him down there.”