HOUSTON (AP) — Kevin Love scored 33 points, including eight straight during a key fourth-quarter stretch, and Nikola Pekovic added a career-high 30 to give the Minnesota Timberwolves a 111-98 win over the Houston Rockets on Friday night.
Love’s fourth 30-point outing in the last five games helped the Timberwolves improve to 3-1 against Houston this season. Ricky Rubio added 18 points and nine assists.
A big run by Houston at the beginning of the fourth cut Minnesota’s lead from 14 to one before Love took over. He scored eight points in a row, fueled by a pair of 3-pointers, to push Minnesota’s lead to 103-94 with 3 minutes left. The Rockets never threatened again.
Love also had 17 rebounds for his 27th double-double of the season, most in the NBA.
Houston got 18 points from Chandler Parsons and 17 each from Kyle Lowry and Courtney Lee, who tied a season best.
It was the first meeting between the teams since Love stepped on Luis Scola’s face and chest after knocking him to the ground while driving to the basket in a Minnesota win on Feb. 4. Love was suspended for two games.
Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said before the game he didn’t think there would be any carry-over and he was right — when it came to the players. The fans were a different story, with the crowd booing Love loudly during introductions and sporadically throughout the game.
When he was called for an offensive foul that knocked Scola to the ground in the third quarter, the crowd seemed confused, with some booing while others cheered.
Houston’s offense got going in the fourth quarter and the Rockets went on a 17-4 run to cut the lead to 95-94 with 6 minutes remaining. Lee, Parsons and Lowry each had 3-pointers for the Rockets in that span while the Timberwolves where slowed by four turnovers.
Love’s run came after that to seal the victory.
Rubio scored the first six points of the third quarter for the Timberwolves and Kevin Martin had a 3-pointer for Houston in that span to leave Minnesota ahead 67-57 with about 10 minutes left.
The Timberwolves led by nine later in the quarter before Houston used a 7-2 spurt to cut the lead to 74-68. Minnesota responded with an 8-0 run to extend its advantage to 82-68 with just under 4 minutes to go.
Minnesota led 91-77 entering the fourth quarter after Lowry’s jump shot at the end of the third quarter.
The last two points in that run came on free throws by Love after Scola picked up his fifth foul and went to the bench. Scola finished with 10 points while being limited after picking up his fifth foul.
Houston led by two points with about 4 minutes remaining in the second quarter before Minnesota used a 14-2 run to take a 59-49 lead. Pekovic got it going with five straight points and Rubio had a 3-pointer.
A 3-pointer by Martin with 9 seconds left got Houston within 61-54 at halftime.
NOTES: Martin finished with 16 points after tying a season high with 32 in Houston’s win over Oklahoma City on Wednesday.
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