OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Kevin Love is on the cusp of becoming the greatest rebounder in Minnesota history.
Getting the Timberwolves into the playoffs for the first time in eight years would be an even sweeter accomplishment for team’s veteran forward.
Love banked in a 16-foot jumper with 4 minutes left, then added an insurance tip-in off a miss by J.J. Barea to help Minnesota keep its dimming postseason hopes alive with a 97-93 win over the Golden State Warriors on Monday night.
“Down the stretch is where we won the game,” said Love, who finished with 36 points and 17 rebounds for his 39th double-double of the season. “We executed, got big stops and made plays.”
Luke Ridnour added 11 points and 10 assists, while Anthony Tolliver scored 10 points off the bench, all in the fourth quarter for the Timberwolves.
Minnesota (23-24) snapped a three-game losing streak with the win and moved within 1 1/2 games of Houston for the eighth spot in the Western Conference.
The Timberwolves haven’t been in the playoffs since going in as the top seed in the West in 2003-04. They’ve had only one winning season in the last seven years and had dropped five of six before holding off Golden State.
“They made their runs at us in the third and fourth quarter and we responded,” Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said. “We’ve been kind of folding in that point and we just kept talking about getting stops and (executing) at the other end.”
Love finished three rebounds shy of his seventh career 30-point, 20-rebound game, which would have been a franchise record. As it was, the 6-foot-10 forward inched closer to passing Kevin Garnett for the most rebounds in team history. He needs just 11 to break Garnett’s mark of 1,139.
Minnesota needed all of them to hold off a pesky Golden State team which is winless in four games since trading leading scorer Monta Ellis to the Milwaukee Bucks last week.
“When we have Kevin Love with 36 and 17, it’s really hard to beat us,” said Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams, who went 2 of 9 from the floor but had 11 rebounds. “We had to get this one.”
David Lee had 25 points and nine rebounds for Golden State, which remained winless since trading leading scorer Monta Ellis to the Milwaukee Bucks last week.
The Warriors (18-25) scored just 14 points in the first quarter, but led 85-84 after Nate Robinson’s 15-foot jumper with 5:34 left.
Tolliver answered with a 3-pointer before Love banked in his long jumper.
After Lee made one of two free-throw attempts for Golden State, Love tipped in Barea’s missed layup. Tolliver later scored on a soaring dunk down the middle to seal the win for the Timberwolves.
It’s only the fourth time this season Minnesota has won on the second half of back-to-back games. The Timberwolves were blown out by Sacramento 115-99 on Sunday.
It’s also just the fifth time Minnesota has beaten Golden State in the last 18 meetings between the teams.
“The game was lost in the first half,” said Lee, who added nine rebounds and three assists. “We didn’t come out and play the way we’re capable of playing. Our defense kept us from being down 40 points.”
Love nearly had his double-double before halftime. He had 12 points in the first quarter when Minnesota built a 21-14 lead, then added a short jumper as part of the Timberwolves 9-0 run to start the second.
Michael Beasley’s free throw with 4:30 left in the second quarter pushed Minnesota ahead 39-22 before Golden State made a late push behind Brandon Rush and Lee.
Johnson stop the run with a pair of 3-pointers in the final two minutes of the half while Ridnour added a running 18-footer just before the shot clock expired, helping the Timberwolves take a 49-35 lead into halftime.
Coming off the blowout loss to the Kings 24 hours earlier, Minnesota seemed to wear down quickly after that.
Part of it was due to Klay Thompson, the Golden State rookie who has taken over at shooting guard following the team’s trade of Ellis.
The 11th overall player taken in the draft, Thompson scored the first five points of a 9-0 run and then added his second 3-pointer of the quarter to give the Warriors a 62-61 lead. He finished with 17 points.
Lee later drove past a trio of Minnesota defenders and dunked to maintain Golden State’s one-point lead before Love scored the final five points of the quarter, including a banked 3-pointer that put the Timberwolves up 71-67 heading into the fourth quarter.
Notes: Golden State G Stephen Curry sat out his fifth straight game because of a sprained right ankle. … Former Warriors star Chris Mullin’s No. 17 jersey was retired and hung from the rafters during a halftime ceremony. Mullin spent 13 of his 16 NBA seasons playing with Golden State and still holds franchise records for games played and steals. The five-time All-Star is the sixth player in franchise history to have his number retired.
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