Nobody in the Minnesota locker room had to say much before the game about the Timberwolves’ 22-game losing streak to the Lakers.
The Wolves mostly knew about their dismal history in this matchup, and they came out apparently determined to rewrite it in the first quarter alone.
Kevin Martin scored 27 points, Kevin Love had 18 of his 25 during Minnesota’s 47-point opening quarter in a skid-snapping 113-90 victory Sunday night.
Ricky Rubio had 12 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who hadn’t beaten the Lakers since March 6, 2007. Minnesota took a 28-point lead with a 27-2 run, reducing the Staples Center crowd to scattered boos during the highest-scoring quarter in the Timberwolves’ franchise history.
The Wolves maintained a healthy advantage all night in their first win over the Lakers at Staples Center since Dec. 2, 2005, ending the longest active streak between two NBA opponents.
”We had lost so many straight to the Lakers that we thought we were due for one,” said Love, who also had 13 rebounds while hitting four 3-pointers. ”We knew, the guys that had played here. We had talked about it, that we hadn’t had much success, but we weren’t thinking about anything numbers-wise. We just wanted to come out and think about this year.”
Minnesota won with ease — something that’s almost never happened in this matchup. Corey Brewer scored 17 points and Nikola Pekovic had 14 points and 10 rebounds as the Wolves punctuated their 5-2 start to the season by routing sending the Lakers’ crowd home early.
Martin had another monster game in his strong start to the season, improving to 18 for 28 on 3-pointers in the last five games while averaging 27 points. And Rubio supplemented his second career triple-double with five steals, becoming just the second player in franchise history with at least five steals during a triple-double game.
”Everybody was making shots,” said Rubio, the first opponent to record a triple-double against the Lakers since LeBron James on Christmas 2010. ”We knew we’d lost the last 22 or something like that. It was a good game for us to end it.”
Steve Blake scored 19 points with five 3-pointers, and Jodie Meeks added 16 for the Lakers, who have lost five of seven — and got even more injury concern about one of their stars.
Steve Nash played 13 minutes before sitting out with a back injury for Los Angeles, which never got closer than 14 points down the stretch.
Nash, the NBA’s oldest player at 39, will be evaluated on Monday by Dr. Robert Watkins, who performed Dwight Howard’s back surgery last year. The Lakers have kept Nash out of the lineup twice already this season to preserve his health, but Nash’s back has bothered him for years.
”You could call it back, nerves, pain in the hamstring,” Nash said. ”It all gets a little convoluted, but it’s all basically the same since last year. . . . I’m just trying to figure it out, trying to play through it and at the same time be smart. It’s tough. I really want to play. To be so limited is frustrating.”
Pau Gasol managed just 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who had won 13 straight at home over Minnesota.
Kobe Bryant played in all but one game during the Lakers’ winning streak in this matchup, but the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history still isn’t close to making his season debut after surgery in April.
The Wolves sizzled from the start, with Martin and Love humiliating the Lakers’ defenders with a series of increasingly improbable jumpers and drives. Los Angeles largely failed to defend the perimeter, but Martin and Love also hit shots in tight coverage while making 12 of their 14 first-quarter shots.
”We came out soft,” Los Angeles coach Mike D’Antoni said. ”They made some tough shots, but they did score 47 points. And I don’t care what kind of shots they made. There just wasn’t enough intensity into the defense, and we paid for it.”
Minnesota led 17-14 before scoring 27 of the next 29 points in a vicious 4:47 span, starting with three consecutive 3-pointers. JJ Barea’s layup put the Wolves up 44-16, and they finished the quarter with a 47-23 lead.
”Forty-seven points in one quarter . . . it’s outrageous,” Gasol said.
The Timberwolves cooled off from there, but were too far ahead to be threatened. The Lakers trimmed the lead to 90-76 heading to the fourth quarter after 11 third-quarter points from Blake and nine more from Meeks, but Rubio and Brewer kept the Wolves ahead down the stretch.
NOTES: Minnesota stays in the building to face the Clippers on Monday night. The Lakers return Tuesday to host New Orleans after last week’s loss to the Pelicans. . . . UCLA product Shabazz Muhammad got no discernible reaction when he entered the game for Minnesota in the fourth quarter. . . . Xavier Henry had a career-high eight rebounds for the Lakers, but he struggled again with 1-for-8 shooting.