Love, Barea send Wolves to 120-98 win over Wizards

Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves started an important

eight-game stretch with an emphatic victory, handing the improving

Washington Wizards their worst loss of the season.

The Wizards hope they didn’t lose something much more important

than just one game.

Love had 25 points and 11 rebounds, and J.J. Barea scored 17

points off the bench to help the Timberwolves beat Washington

120-98 on Friday night.

Ricky Rubio had 11 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in 26

minutes, and Nikola Pekovic added 18 points and 10 boards for the

Timberwolves. Minnesota turned the ball over only five times and

got 44 points from its long-struggling reserves.

”It’s no secret we need more production from our bench,” Love

said. ”That really helps out some of the starters, especially when

every night isn’t going to be great for all of our guys, one

through five.”

John Wall had 26 points and seven assists for the Wizards, who

missed a chance to win their fourth straight road game for the

first time since March 2008. Nene added 13 points and five

rebounds, but Bradley Beal had to be helped off the floor in the

fourth quarter with a left leg injury.

Beal scored 14 points in 26 minutes, but got tangled up on a

screen by Wolves forward Luc Mbah a Moute with 4:25 to go. Beal was

knocked to the ground and couldn’t put any pressure on his left leg

as Jan Vesely and Trevor Ariza helped him to the locker room.

”With the knee injuries going on this year in the NBA, you just

hope (Beal’s) isn’t one of those ones that (is) devastating,” Wall

said.

Preliminary X-rays were negative on Beal’s left knee and he will

have an MRI on Saturday.

”I was just trying to really get up and I really couldn’t get

up,” Beal said. ”Was hoping it wasn’t anything too serious or too

crazy. I mean, I was able to put a little weight on it afterwards.

Just have to see with the MRI tomorrow.”

Beal missed nine games this season with a stress fracture in his

right leg, and the Wizards count on his scoring as part of their

dynamic young backcourt.

Barea shot 8 of 10 and Alexey Shved scored 13 points and grabbed

five rebounds to give the Wolves some much-needed balance between

their starters and bench.

The Timberwolves slogged through a brutal opening two months,

weathering injuries to Chase Budinger and Ronny Turiaf and the

third-toughest schedule in the NBA to post a 13-15 record. It was

underwhelming considering the high hopes they started the season

with, but not wholly unexpected given the schedule.

Now is the time they have to make a move if they want to be a

factor in the Western Conference playoff race. They play six of the

next eight at home and face five teams that are currently under

.500.

The Wolves got off to an awful start Friday, shooting 28 percent

in the first quarter. But they got to the free throw line 10 times

to stay close, then made their move in the second quarter with 39

points.

”It makes things a lot easier,” coach Rick Adelman said of his

second-team backcourt. ”I like the way they played at both ends of

the court. We’ve got to get something going when those guys come

in.”

The Wizards, meanwhile, were looking to end a four-game road

swing with a statement. They beat the Knicks, Nets and Celtics to

start the trip, then had five days off before facing the

Timberwolves, and coach Randy Wittman wanted to see his young team

build on the steps he believed they took in those victories.

Wall scored 22 points in the first half, but just four in the

second as the Wizards faded.

The Wolves dictated play for most of the night, shooting 38 free

throws to just 17 for Washington and outrebounding the Wizards

44-35, including 14-9 on the offensive end.

”They were tougher than we were,” Wittman said. ”They pushed

us around. We had no resistance. So we’ve got to put this game

behind us but learn from it.”

NOTES: Former Timberwolves F Martell Webster scored 11 points

for the Wizards. … Wizards F Kevin Seraphin missed the game with

a sore right knee. … The Timberwolves’ game against Phoenix on

Jan. 8 has been moved to an 8:30 p.m. CST start to accommodate

ESPN.