Timberwolves pull away to hand Celtics third straight loss
Boston Celtics' Jeff Green, left, keeps the ball at arm's length as Minnesota Timberwolves' Corey Brewer tries to reach it in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Boston Celtics' Brandon Bass, left, breaks up a rebound-attempt by Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Love in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Love, left, shoots as Boston Celtics' Brandon Bass looks on in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Kevin Love had 23 points and 12 rebounds and Nikola Pekovic had 20 points and 12 boards to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 106-88 victory over the Boston Celtics last night.
Kevin Martin scored 20 on 6-for-18 shooting and Dante Cunningham scored 12 off the bench to help Minnesota rebound from a tough loss in Denver the previous night.
Avery Bradley scored 27 points and Vitor Faverani had nine points and 14 rebounds for the Celtics. But Jeff Green went 0-for-6 from the floor and Boston’s 22 turnovers led to 28 points for the Timberwolves.
The Celtics have lost three in a row following a four-game winning streak.
J.J. Barea scored 13 points and Pekovic started throwing his considerable weight around the way he did last season to earn a five-year extension this summer. The big man has had difficulty early this season finding his place in the offense with Love and Martin taking the bulk of the shots with the starting unit.
But against Boston’s smaller front court, Pekovic had his way. He scored 10 points in the third quarter to help the Wolves turn a close game into a comfortable margin, and Martin and Love took over from there.
Playing their fifth game in seven nights, the Timberwolves were a little sluggish in the first half against a Celtics team that has been surprisingly competitive early this season after trading Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn and sending Coach Doc Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Brad Stevens’s team started 0-4, but beat Miami during a four-game winning streak to even its record. As the competition has stiffened with Western Conference playoff hopefuls Portland and Minnesota in the last two nights, the Celtics talent gap has looked more glaring.
The Timberwolves led by as many as 17 points midway through the second quarter, but the Celtics closed the half on a 20-8 run to keep it close. Faverani, who started for Kelly Olynyk because Stevens liked the way he matched up against Pekovic, hit two 3s to start the comeback.
Bulls 110, Pacers 94
Luol Deng scored 23 points, Derrick Rose added 20 points and Chicago knocked off the NBA’s last unbeaten team.
Taj Gibson had 15 points and eight rebounds for Chicago, which won its fourth straight game behind 11-of-19 shooting from 3-point range.
Rose was 6-for-11 from beyond the arc in 30 minutes after missing a game with a sore right hamstring.
HEAT 97, BOBCATS 81
LeBron James scored 30 points to help Miami beat Charlotte for the 13th straight time.
With Mario Chalmers suspended, Chris Bosh limited due to foul trouble, Ray Allen out with the flu and Dwyane Wade a non-factor, James came up big for the Heat. The four-time MVP was 13 of 18 from the field and had seven assists in his eighth 20-point game this season.
Michael Beasley added 15 points for the Heat, winners of six of their last seven overall.
ROCKETS 122, NUGGETS 111
Dwight Howard scored 18 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, including 13 of 19 free throws in a 2 ½-minute stretch, to lead Houston past Denver.
Chandler Parsons added 20 points and James Harden had 17 for the Rockets, who never trailed and led by as many as 23.
The Nuggets tried to get back in it with about 5½ minutes left by using the “Hack-a-Howard” defense, intentionally fouling the center every time Houston had the ball. The plan backfired and Howard, who entered the game shooting 49 percent from the line, finished 17 of 24 on free throws.
MAVERICKS 108, MAGIC 100
Monta Ellis had 19 points and eight assists to help Dallas win at Orlando for the eighth straight time.
Dirk Nowitzki and DeJuan Blair added 18 apiece for the Mavericks.
Arron Afflalo led the Magic with 25 points and four assists. Nikola Vucevic had 16 points and eight rebounds and Jameer Nelson added 15.
Orlando trimmed a 15-point first-half deficit to 91-87 after Vucevic’s layup with 6:58 left in the game.
HAWKS 110, KNICKS 90
Jeff Teague scored 16 points to lead eight players in double figures, and Atlanta sent New York to a fifth straight home loss.
Paul Millsap, back in the starting lineup, had 14 points and 13 rebounds as the Hawks shot 56 percent and won for the fourth time in five games. They avenged the loss during that span, a 95-91 Knicks victory in Atlanta on Wednesday.
Carmelo Anthony had 23 points and 12 rebounds for New York. Andrea Bargnani added 16 points and nine boards.
CAVALIERS 103, WIZARDS 96
Kyrie Irving scored nine of his 41 points in overtime to help Cleveland snap a three-game skid.
Irving scored seven straight points on three possessions in overtime to give the Cavaliers the lead for good. He later added an 18-foot jumper to match his career high and finish 14 of 28 from the floor and 4 of 7 from beyond the arc.
John Beal scored 28 points for Washington, Nene added 24 points and seven rebounds, and John Wall had nine points and 12 assists.
PELICANS 135, 76ERS 98
Anthony Davis had 13 points, nine rebounds and a career-high eight blocks in less than three quarters, helping New Orleans emphatically snap a three-game skid.
Ryan Anderson scored 26 points – hitting six 3-pointers – in his return from a broken toe that sidelined him for New Orleans’ first nine games. He scored 14 points in his first 14 minutes, helping the Pelicans build a 30-point lead in the first half.
THUNDER 92, BUCKS 79
Russell Westbrook scored 26 points and Kevin Durant added 24 as Oklahoma City snapped a two-game skid.
The Thunder were coming off back-to-back road losses to the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors. Serge Ibaka had 15 points and equaled a career high with 20 rebounds.
O.J. Mayo scored 22 points for the Bucks, losers of five straight who continue to play short-handed because of injuries.
Oklahoma City took control with an 11-4 run to end the third quarter — playing with reserves for much of that stretch — and led 72-65 going into the fourth.