NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Love had 34 points, 15 rebounds and five assists, Kevin Martin scored 30 points and the Minnesota Timberwolves improved to 3-0 for the first time in 12 years with a 109-100 victory over the New York Knicks on Sunday night.
Minnesota took a huge lead after a 40-point first quarter, then pulled away after the Knicks trimmed it to two in the closing minutes to move halfway to matching the 2001-02 team that set the franchise record by winning its first six.
The Timberwolves, averaging a whopping 37.3 points in the first quarter, are healthy again after an injury-wrecked 2012-13 and showing the early promise of a team that can contend for its first playoff berth since 2004.
Carmelo Anthony had 22 points and 17 rebounds for the Knicks, who have dropped two straight after a season-opening victory and drew some loud boos in the first half while appearing to be standing still on defense.
Anthony shot just 8 of 21. Metta World Peace added 17 points, but the Knicks were too far behind by the time they found any offense.
The Wolves were 29 of 38 from the free throw line after coming into the game leading the NBA with 27 makes per game. Many times the Knicks lost whatever momentum they had when they sent a Minnesota player to the line.
Minnesota rang up 38 points in the first quarter of its opener, put up 34 in a rout of Oklahoma City on Friday, and made 14 of 21 shots in the opening 12 minutes of this one.
Leading by four, the Wolves closed the period with a 23-6 run, and it really couldn’t have been much easier. When they weren’t getting ahead of the Knicks’ defense for fast-break layups, they were getting to the line, such as when Love had a four-point possession after Kenyon Martin fouled him on a 3-pointer, then gave an extra shove for a technical foul.
Minnesota scored the final 11 points of the period to make it 40-19, got the first basket of the second, and took a 64-49 lead into halftime. Tyson Chandler’s free throws opened the scoring in the second half, but Minnesota quickly ran off seven straight to re-open a 20-point lead on Martin’s 3-pointer with 10:04 remaining in the quarter.
The Knicks finally sustained a run in the fourth quarter, consecutive 3-pointers by Anthony and Iman Shumpert capping a 17-5 surge that cut it to 100-98 with 4:49 remaining. But Martin made a free throw on a technical foul, then hit a 3-pointer, and Love followed with a jumper to push the lead to 106-98 with 3:19 to play.
NOTES: There was a moment of silence before the game for former Knick and Hall of Famer Walt Bellamy, who died Saturday at 74. Knicks coach Mike Woodson said he had seen Bellamy not long ago in Atlanta, where the former Hawks coach still owned a home. … Minnesota snapped a four-game losing streak to New York.
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