Timberwolves shut down Bulls
CHICAGO — Minnesota forward Kevin Love scored 31 points, leading the Timberwolves to a 95-86 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Monday night at the United Center.
The victory ended Minnesota’s seven-game losing streak to Chicago.
Two players who have missed the majority of the season with injuries brought a spark from the bench. Forward Ronny Turiaf scored 14 points and forward Chase Budinger added 12 for the Timberwolves.
Minnesota (22-22) has won four of its last five games. The Timberwolves have not been above .500 since Nov. 23 when they were 8-7.
The matchup offered an extreme clash of styles. Heading into this game, Minnesota ranked second in the league in points scored at 106.8 per game and Chicago was second with a 92.9-point average.
The Timberwolves kept up their usual pace in the first half, building a 54-46 lead at intermission. But the game slowed to crawl in the second half.
Minnesota shot 53.8 percent from the field in the first half and just 31.6 percent in the third quarter, but the Bulls could only cut one point off their deficit.
To open the fourth quarter, Chicago (22-22) failed to score for nearly four minutes. Meanwhile, a bank shot by Budinger and 3-pointer by Corey Brewer boosted the Timberwolves’ lead to 77-65.
The Bulls made a surge in the final two minutes. A putback by forward Taj Gibson and 3-pointer from point guard DJ Augustin brought them within 84-79 with 1:29 remaining.
On the other end, Love finished a reverse scoop and then Brewer got a breakaway dunk off a Bulls miss to make it 88-79 with 57.4 seconds remaining.
Forward Carlos Boozer led Chicago with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Augustin added 19 points and guard Jimmy Butler finished with 16.
The Bulls played without center Joakim Noah, who sat out because of an illness.
Minnesota center Nikola Pekovic left the game after six minutes with a sore right Achilles tendon and did not return. In his previous four games, Pekovic averaged 22.5 points and 12 rebounds.
Minnesota jumped to a 17-6 lead and never trailed. The Bulls closed within 23-20 by the end of the first quarter, but the Timberwolves opened the second with a 7-0 run to push the advantage back into double digits.
Chicago fell to 4-10 against Western Conference opponents and now departs on a six-game Western road trip, beginning Wednesday in San Antonio.
Notes: Chicago C Joakim Noah left the arena shortly before tipoff because of an illness. It was the second game he missed this season. Noah is working on a career-best streak of 16 consecutive games with double-figure rebounds. The Bulls’ franchise record is 43 by Dennis Rodman. ... Minnesota G Ricky Rubio, who successfully returned from a torn ACL last season, talked about Chicago G Derrick Rose having a second knee surgery in November. “When you go down twice, it has to be hard,” Rubio said. “I know he’s a warrior and he wants to come back and he’s going to do it. Best of luck to him.” ... Bulls G D.J. Augustin had scored 27 or more points in three of his previous four games. Prior to the run, Augustin hadn’t scored 27 points in an NBA game since Jan. 28, 2011, when he played for the Charlotte Bobcats.