Wolves hold off Kings 108-97

Saturday night marked the second straight win and fifth in six games for the Timberwolves (29-29).

Rich Pedroncelli/Rich Pedroncelli/AP

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Kevin Martin scored 26 points, Kevin Love had 22 and the Minnesota Timberwolves reached .500 with a 108-97 win over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.

It was the second straight win and fifth in six games for the Timberwolves (29-29).

Minnesota never trailed after opening the third quarter with nine straight points.

Love added 10 rebounds and seven assists, and Nikola Pekovic had 20 points and nine rebounds for Minnesota. Corey Brewer added 13 points.

DeMarcus Cousins had 21 points and 17 rebounds for the Kings in his return from a one-game suspension. Rudy Gay had 22 of his 24 points in the opening half and Isaiah Thomas had 22 points and eight assists in Sacramento’s third straight loss.

It was a rare off night for Love, who averaged 34 points and 14 rebounds in seven February games. He shot 4 of 12, but converted 12 of 14 free throws.

But Love received plenty of help from Martin and Pekovic. Martin had missed the past seven games with a broken left thumb and Pekovic sat out the last 13 with a right foot he injured Jan. 27 at Chicago.

Cousins was suspended one game for punching Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley on Tuesday and fined $20,000 as part of the incident in which he verbally abused official Courtney Kirkland and failed to leave the court in a timely manner.

Cousins leads the NBA with 15 technicals this season. One more and he will be suspended for one game under NBA rules.

The Kings are winless in the 10 games Cousins has missed this season.

Thomas made consecutive baskets, cutting the lead to get the Kings within 97-95 with 2:09 remaining.

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But Pekovic converted two free throws and Rubio hit a 3 to give the Timberwolves some breathing room at 102-95 with 53.4 seconds left and Minnesota closed it out from the free throw line.

After the Kings cut the lead to six on Gay’s two free throws with 3:44 remaining, Pekovic dunked at the other end to give the Timberwolves a 97-89 lead.

Love scored seven points in the third quarter when Minnesota forced several costly turnovers that led to easy baskets at the other end.

The Timberwolves outscored the Kings 31-14 in the third and took an 84-70 lead into the fourth.

Trailing by three points, the Timberwolves opened the third quarter with nine unanswered points, six of them by Brewer, who had consecutive baskets on a fast-break dunk and a breakaway layup. The lead reached 77-62 at the 4:21 mark on a 3 by Love.

Gay made four 3-pointers and scored 22 points in the opening half, when Sacramento led 56-53. Thomas had 10 points for the Kings and Cousins had nine and nine rebounds.

Despite playing his first game since Feb. 7, Martin, who played for the Kings from 2004-2010 showed no signs of rust in the opening half. The former King made his first four shots and hit 7 of 11 shots in the opening half and scored 19 points.

NOTES: Kings reserve forward Carl Landry missed his second straight game with a sore right knee. … Sacramento shot 70 percent in the first quarter and led 31-30. … Minnesota coach Rick Adelman was head coach for eight seasons with the Kings and his teams made the playoffs every year. Sacramento hasn’t made the playoffs since Adelman was fired following the 2005-06 season.