Timberwolves stun Sixers
MINNEAPOLIS — Half of the game was over before the Minnesota Timberwolves warmed their legs Wednesday. By that time, the Philadelphia 76ers had the Wolves in a deep hole, quieting the Target Center crowd.
But the Wolves kept digging.
Down by as many as 19 points in the first half, without a lead in the game until the fourth quarter, Minnesota received a strong push from its bench and rallied for a 106-99 victory.
The Timberwolves (11-11) earned a second consecutive victory for the first time since early November.
Both forward Kevin Love (26 points, 15 rebounds) and center Nikola Pekovic (20 and 10) had double-doubles, and guard Ricky Rubio had 21 points and seven assists for the Wolves, whose shooting percentage never rose above 40 percent.
Five players scored in double figures for the 76ers, who built a 61-48 halftime lead but scored just 38 points in the second half. Guard Tony Wroten and center Spencer Hawes each finished with 20 points as Philadelphia (7-16) lost for the eighth time in nine games. Guard James Anderson and forward Thaddeus Young had 16 each.
Down 86-81 early in the fourth quarter, the Wolves went on a 10-0 run — with Pekovic scoring six — to take their first lead, 87-86, on forward Robbie Hummel’s jumper with 8:27 left.
The Wolves never trailed again. Hummel scored 10 points off the bench in the fourth quarter, and Pekovic had eight as the Wolves held on for the victory.
The Wolves couldn’t buy a basket to start the game — they were 8-for-26 in the first 12 minutes — but were still within 19-17 before the 76ers finished the quarter on a fast break-induced 20-3 run that included almost no distinguishable defense by the Wolves. Turner had 10, Anderson nine and Wroten seven for the 76ers, who shot 17-for-22 in the quarter.
It was the most points surrendered in a quarter by the Wolves all season and tied a season high for the 76ers.
The second quarter was mainly the same. The Wolves’ bench opened with an 8-0 run to pull within 11, but 11 points by Hawes — who hit two of three 3-point attempts in the quarter — helped push the lead back to 18 on his 3-pointer with 1:05 left. A flurry of free throws by Love helped Minnesota close the half on a 5-0 run to pull within 61-48.
It was the start of something.
Forward Corey Brewer opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer, and the Wolves appeared to awaken.
The Wolves opened the quarter with a 12-2 run — a 17-2 run dating back to the end of the first half — to pull within three on Love’s 3-pointer. It was game on.
Anderson scored five points as the 76ers pushed the lead back to 10. However, a 12-2 run that started with Brewer’s 3-pointer and ended with one by Rubio with 1:46 left tied the game. Hawes’ 3-pointer made it 81-78 entering the fourth.
Notes: Philadelphia rookie PG Michael Carter-Williams missed his fourth consecutive game because of soreness and a skin infection on the front of his right knee. Carter spent three days in the hospital last week because of the infection. On medication, he is waiting for the infection to clear before returning to practice. In all, he missed eight games this season, as he sat out four others with a sort left foot ... Wolves C Ronny Turiaf, who suffered a right elbow fracture Nov. 1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, is healing slower than the team hoped. Word was the injury would take four to six weeks, but he is still unable to practice, and he will be sidelined for the near future. ... Minnesota F Chase Budinger, still sidelined after offseason knee surgery, could be cleared to practice within two weeks, coach Rick Adelman said. ... In an effort to get backup SG Alexei Shved going, Wolves coach Rick Adelman is giving him minutes with the starters, sometimes even early in the first quarter.