Wolves power past Brooklyn
MINNEAPOLIS — Forward Corey Brewer and point guard Ricky Rubio scored five points each during a game-icing 16-0 third-quarter run as the Minnesota Timberwolves cruised past the Brooklyn Nets 111-81 Friday night at Target Center.
Guard Kevin Martin and forward Kevin Love led the Wolves with 17 points each — the duo combining for the other six points in Minnesota’s decisive run. All five Wolves starters scored in double figures, with Brewer and center Nikola Pekovic chipping in 15 each and Rubio adding 12.
The Wolves led by at least 14 points through the final three quarters, extending their lead to as many as 37 in the fourth frame en route to their largest victory of the season.
Center Andray Blatche scored 16 points and guard Joe Johnson added 15 for undermanned Brooklyn, which suffered its worst loss of the season. The Nets have lost seven of their last eight games and four straight for the first time since a five-game slide Dec. 1 through Dec. 11 last season.
Brooklyn, which was without four players due to injury — including three starters — sliced the deficit to 16 early in the third quarter. But forward Kevin Garnett’s flagrant foul and technical foul led to a six-point play that started Minnesota’s run of 16 consecutive points.
Garnett was whistled for shoving Love in the chest as the two fought for position with the Wolves on offense. Martin and Love combined to hit the three free throws and Brewer hit a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession.
The lead was 32 points after three quarters, leaving starters for both teams on the bench for the entire fourth quarter.
Minnesota controlled the game from the start, as Brooklyn missed 14 of its first 17 shots en route to 14 first-quarter points — a season low for the Nets and a season low allowed by the Wolves. Minnesota outscored Brooklyn with its second-chance points alone in the frame (15), and led by 16 after 12 minutes. The Nets also had nine turnovers.
Love grabbed 11 rebounds in the first quarter — a career-high in any quarter — and had a double-double by halftime with the Wolves holding a 20-point advantage. The Nets’ 37 points through two quarters tied for the fewest in any half by a Minnesota opponent this season.
Point guard Tyshawn Taylor chipped in 13 points and guard Alan Anderson was also in double figures with 11 as Brooklyn fell to 1-7 on the road this season.
Minnesota avoided losing three straight games for the first time this season.
Notes: Brooklyn took on Minnesota without starters PG Deron Williams (ankle), F Andrei Kirilenko (back) and C Brook Lopez (ankle) and reserve G Jason Terry (knee). Kirilenko, who played for the Timberwolves last season, missed his seventh straight and Lopez sat out for the fourth consecutive game. Williams re-sprained an ankle on Wednesday after missing Brooklyn’s two previous games with the injury. Terry sat for the first time this season. ... F Kevin Garnett returned to Target Center as a visitor for potentially the final time of his career after spending his first 12 seasons with Minnesota. “The Twin Cities have always been like a second or third home,” Garnett said. “Always enjoyed the fans here.” ... Kirilenko met with former Minnesota teammate and fellow Russian G Alexei Shved on Thursday. The two, who were close last season, still talk weekly. Shved has struggled this season averaging 1.9 points in just nine minutes per game after averaging nearly 24 minutes in 2012-13. “He’s in a tough position now,” Kirilenko said. “He has to use every opportunity. If you play five minutes, go hard. If you play 10 minutes, go hard. And if you aren’t playing, cheer for your teammates. Be positive and wait for a chance.” ... Wolves F Kevin Love has a double-double in nine straight road games, the longest active streak in the NBA. ... Minnesota rookie F Shabazz Muhammad missed his fifth consecutive game with a sprained right ankle.