Wolves club Lakers, set team scoring record
MINNEAPOLIS — Welcome back Nikola Pekovic.
In his first game back since missing six with an ankle injury, the Timberwolves’ burly center scored 26 points in 29 minutes, leading a high-octane, record-breaking Minnesota attack in a 143-107 beating of the beat-up Los Angeles Lakers Friday at Target Center.
Record breaking? The Wolves’ 143 points and their 67.1 percent shooting were both franchise records and the best marks in the NBA this season.
Forward Kevin Love had 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his second career triple-double. Guard Kevin Martin added 17.
The Wolves’ starters scored a combined 86 points before watching the fourth quarter from the bench. As a team, the Wolves shot 51-for-76.
The Lakers were led by forward Kent Bazemore (21) and guard Jodie Meeks (19).
It was the second straight victory for Minnesota (36-35), who also matched an NBA season high with 111 points through three quarters. The Lakers lost their second straight game and sixth in eight games.
Pekovic had 12 points in the first quarter, seven in the second and seven in the third. Love finished off his triple-double with a rebound as the third-quarter buzzer sounded, achieving it in 29 minutes played.
The victory marked just the third time in Wolves franchise history they have won the season series against the Lakers.
The Wolves bolted from the gate. With Love scoring 15 points and Pekovic 12 — they combined to shoot 8-for-10 — Minnesota shot 65 percent and bolted to a 41-25 lead after one quarter. All five Wolves starters scored in the quarter while the Lakers shot a combined 10-for-25 from the field.
The second quarter was more of the same. Up 51-30, the Wolves scored 15 straight to go up 66-30 on point guard J.J. Barea’s jumper with 3:23 left in the half. The lead would grow to 37 before the Lakers cut it to 31.
Still, the Wolves’ 74 points was a season high for a half, achieved through hot shooting (64.1 percent). The Lakers, meanwhile, struggled to shoot 31.5 percent.
Notes: Timberwolves C Nikola Pekovic started and played after missing six games because of a sore ankle. He said he never considered shutting it down for the rest of the season and says he hopes to play the remaining 12 games. ... Timberwolves rookie C Gorgui Dieng returned to a bench role after delivering five double-doubles in six starts with Pekovic out. Pekovic was asked playfully if he was worried that Dieng would take his place. “Nah, I’m just glad he really stepped it up,” Pekovic said. “I’m just glad Coach can see he can really play.” ... Lakers G Xavier Henry did not play Friday after he banged knees in Thursday’s loss at Milwaukee. The Lakers also were missing G Kobe Bryant (fractured knee) as well as C/F Pau Gasol (vertigo) and G Jordan Farmar (groin). G Steve Nash (nerve root irritation) warmed up before the game and was able to play. ... Lakers F Kent Bazemore started at small forward for Wes Johnson, the Timberwolves’ No. 4 overall pick in the 2010 draft.