Wolves' hot streak continues, flipping fortunes against Lakers
Minnesota snaps a 22-game slump against the Lakers and breaks first-quarter points franchise record.
By PHIL ERVINFS North
Timberwolves flipped their fortunes in the most assertive fashion imaginable Sunday night.
These weren't the same
Lakers that hadn't fallen to Minnesota since 2007 -- a 22-game span ranking as the NBA's longest active win streak between two teams. Kobe Bryant was out, and the once-proud franchise is in a limbo year as it prepares to restock its roster this offseason.
But snapping that much-discussed anecdote with a 113-90 drubbing tasted sweet on the lips of Kevin Love, who was born about 20 minutes from the Staples Center. He was in high school the last time the Timberwolves vanquished
Ricky Rubio, who notched his second career triple-double, was 15 years old.
"We needed one" against the Lakers, said Love, whose family moved to Oregon a year after he was born in Santa Monica, Calif. "To do it on the road is great, but we're gonna get a couple of them at home, too, hopefully."
Love continued his overwhelming start to the season. Ricky Rubio had a triple-double. And lights-out Minnesota (5-2) got things rolling with the highest-scoring quarter in club history.
The Timberwolves' 47 first-frame points broke a franchise record and came within 3 of tying the NBA mark for first-quarter point production. Love and Kevin Martin -- who scored 32 points apiece in Friday's win against Dallas -- combined to hit 6 of 7 3-pointers in the opening 7 minutes, 9 seconds.
The Timberwolves closed the first with a 30-9 run and held Los Angeles scoreless for 3:36.
"We were very active, plus we just shot the heck out of it," said coach Rick Adelman, whose bunch shot a season-high 48.9 percent. "I don't think (the Lakers) really knew what hit them when the two Kevins started making all those 3s."
After becoming the first player in NBA history to average at least 27 points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists through a team's first six games of a season on Friday, Love had 18 points and eight rebounds Sunday. In the first 10 minutes.
Martin added 16 first-quarter points, and the Timberwolves made 16 of 21 field goals. Rubio, who came in struggling mightily from the field, hit a 3 from the left wing with 46 seconds left to break the club single-quarter mark and added seven assists and three steals in the frame.
The electric point guard finished with 12 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds for his second career triple-double. He had five steals for the third time in six games and tied his career high for helpers.
"I was focused," said Rubio, who entered Sunday shooting 28.1 percent from the floor but went 5-for-9 on Sunday. "I was ready for this game. I didn't have a good game lately, and I wanted to do a good game, especially here in the Staples."
Love paced Minnesota with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Martin's 27 points were a team high. Nikola Pekovic scored 14 points -- nine in the third quarter -- and pulled down 10 boards.
"We started the game serious, making shots, then great D and running in the open court," Rubio said. "We like that. When we make shots, this team is fun."
Minnesota led by as many as 28 in the second before a one of Steve Blake's five 3s capped a 14-2 Lakers run. But that only cut the deficit to 55-37, and Los Angeles never got any closer until after halftime.
Blake, Jodie Meeks and Shawne Williams combined to make 6 of 9 treys as Los Angeles outscored Minnesota 28-23 in the third quarter and trailed by just 14 entering the fourth. But a Timberwolves lineup featuring Love, Rubio, Brewer, Dante Cunningham, J.J. Barea and later Pekovic opened the fourth with a 14-4 run, and the Lakers (3-5) never threatened again.
Sunday's only drawback may have been Adelman overusing his starters. All five were on the floor at least 33 minutes, and Love and Rubio each played 38.
"Everybody wants to look at that, but I had a feeling -- I wanted to win this game," Adelman said. "The guys that came off the bench, they've got to come in tomorrow and give us something."
The Timberwolves conclude their first West Coast road trip of the season Monday against the Clippers.
Adelman said before the game he wasn't aware Minnesota had been so dismal against the Lakers the past six years and downplayed the skid's significance. Yet the dry, 23-year head man did reference it -- tongue-in-cheek, of course -- during his postgame press conference.
"We broke some streak," he said with a slight grin. "We were on fire."