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Timberwolves hammer Wizards

The Sports Xchange

MINNEAPOLIS — Forward Kevin Love posted his NBA-leading 26th double-double with 25 points and 11 rebounds as the Minnesota Timberwolves topped the Washington Wizards 120-98 on Friday night at the Target Center.

Love scored 11 straight points in the first quarter to help the Wolves erase an early 9-0 deficit and ultimately avoid their second three-game losing streak of the season while winning their third consecutive home game.

Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic also had a double-double for Minnesota with 18 points and 10 rebounds, his 14th of the season. Guard Ricky Rubio narrowly missed his second triple-double with 11 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.

Guard John Wall led Washington with 26 points, 22 of which came in the first half. Guard Bradley Beal added 14, center Nene scored 13, guard Martell Webster chipped in 11, and forwards Trevor Booker and Trevor Ariza finished in double figures with 10 apiece.

Beal left the game with 4:25 remaining in the fourth quarter after suffering what appeared to be a left leg injury. He was carried off the floor and to the locker room by teammates Jan Vesely and Ariza, not putting weight on either leg.

The second-year guard reentered the game tied with Wall for the team lead in scoring at 19.6 points per game. Beal missed nine games at the end of November through mid-December with a stress injury in his right fibula.

The Wolves never let the Wizards closer than 12 points in the second half. Washington twice pulled within 12 points in the third quarter, but both times Minnesota responded with six consecutive points.

Washington built its biggest lead of the game at 9-0 while the Wolves missed their first six shots from the field. Minnesota shot just 28 percent from the floor in the quarter but stayed close by hitting 8 of 10 free throws.

The Timberwolves used a 13-1 run to spark a season-high, 39-point second quarter and build a 14-point halftime lead despite Wall’s big first half. The 39 points were the most allowed by Washington in a quarter this season.

With the loss, the Wizards failed to reach .500 for what would have been just the second time this season while also missing out on their first four-game road winning streak since March 2008. The 22-point loss was Washington’s largest of the season.

Guard JJ Barea and Alexey Shved scored 17 and 13 points off the bench, respectively, for Minnesota. Guard Kevin Martin added 12 points and forward Corey Brewer also finished in double figures with 10.