Timberwolves roll over Lakers
The Sports Xchange - MINNEAPOLIS -- One by one, the records, much like the Minnesota Timberwolves jumpers all night, fell.
Shooting percentage, points, efficiency. Friday night at Target Center, everything went the Timberwolves' way as they beat up on a banged-up Lakers team 143-107.
Leading the assault was center Nikola Pekovic, playing for the first time since missing six games with an ankle injury. He made nine of 10 shots and scored 26 points in 29 minutes.
"It was good to be back on the court with the guys again," Pekovic said. "Especially in a game like this.''
And he just set the tone. Forward Kevin Love picked up his 10th rebound at the third-quarter buzzer, giving him 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, the second triple-double of his career. Four other Wolves players scored in double figures in a game in which they never trailed and led by as many as 40 points while getting their biggest-ever victory over the Lakers.
"Tonight the ball moved so well," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "We weren't forcing anything. Just a really good game for us."
The Wolves' 143 points and 67.1-percent shooting were both franchise records. No NBA team has shot the ball better or scored more points in regulation this season. Minnesota had 11 points through three quarters, tied for the most in the league this season. It was the Wolves' 12th win by 20 or more points this season and their biggest victory since January of 2009. The Wolves (36-35) won the season series against the Lakers for just the third time in franchise history, winning three of four games.
"Even with the team they have now, it's still nice to beat a team that has been a heavyweight for a very long time," Love said.
Unfortunately, it was the stumbling Lakers (24-48) who paid the price. Forward Kent Bazemore scored 21 points and guard Jodie Meeks had 19 for the Lakers, who lost their second straight game and their sixth in eight games.
"I thought we came out unfocused and not ready to play,'' Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "And then, when that happens, guys start going one-on-one to try and get their numbers. Then you have a total breakdown, and we had a total breakdown.''
Frankly, this one was never in question. Minnesota had a 20-3 run in the second quarter and a 15-0 run in the second. The Wolves' lead got as big as 39 in the third quarter and 40 in the fourth quarter, when Adelman emptied his bench.
Seven players scored 11 or more points, seven players had multiple assists. Perhaps the only blemish on the Wolves' side of things were the 21 turnovers the Lakers turned into 30 points.
And yet the Lakers still lost by 36 points.
"We just didn't get back on defense as a group," Lakers center Chris Kaman said. "And then they got easy opportunities on their end. It builds and compounds.''
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.