MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Kevin Love’s 3-point shooting is opening up things for Minnesota’s offense and Timberwolves took advantage Sunday, notching their first victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in almost four years.
Love had 30 points and nine rebounds, the Timberwolves hit a season-high 12 3-pointers and Minnesota beat the Grizzlies 101-93, snapping Minnesota’s 11-game losing streak to Memphis.
Love, who connected on all but one of his nine 3-pointers in Friday night’s loss to San Antonio, was 11 of 21 from the field Sunday, including 4 of 8 from outside the arc as Minnesota converted 12 of 26 from long range in winning for the third time in four games. Minnesota had made 11 3-pointers six times this season, including in Friday night’s loss at San Antonio.
“It’s crazy,” reserve guard J.J. Barea said of Love’s offense. “It opens up the drive for everybody. Everybody else can play freely. You know they are going to have to pay attention the rest of the game to him.”
Nikola Pekovic scored 19 points, while Barea had 15, hitting 3 of 5 from outside the arc. Ricky Rubio finished with 12 points.
Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 28 points before leaving with just under 4 minutes to go with a bruised left thigh. Zach Randolph had 20 points and 12 rebounds. Jon Leuer scored 15, and Jerryd Bayless added 14 as Memphis lost its third straight.
Conley was listed as day to day after the game. It was the latest in a spate of injuries for Memphis, which has lost starting center Marc Gasol and reserve swingman Quincy Pondexter indefinitely. Tony Allen and Ed Davis just returned from missing several games apiece with injuries. That has left the Grizzlies trying to work their way through makeshift lineups to find a defensive identity.
“I don’t think it is frustration,” Allen said. “It’s all about getting it together and practice. We just have to keep sticking to the things that pretty much gained our notoriety.”
Memphis made several runs at Minnesota in the fourth quarter, cutting the Timberwolves’ lead to 95-92 when Randolph scored inside with 2:27 left.
But Pekovic converted four straight free throws to create the cushion that led to the victory.
“The last 3 minutes, we really executed and played good defense,” Pekovic said, adding “that was the difference” from Friday’s loss to the Spurs.
The Timberwolves relied on their 3-point shooting, led by Love and Barea, to carry a 56-46 lead into the break. Love had 19 points, connecting on 7 of 12 from the field, including 3 of 5 from outside the arc. Barea hit all four of his shots in the half, including a trio of 3-pointers for 13 points.
“When you get down 20 in the first half, you are exerting a lot of energy to fight back,” Leuer said. “Nobody quit, and we did fight back.”
Conley scored 15 of his points in the third quarter to help Memphis cut into the lead, but Minnesota clung to a 77-73 advantage entering the fourth.
Memphis was within 81-79 with 9:19 to play, when a flagrant foul on Davis changed momentum.
Davis was called for the foul on a fast-break drive by Alexey Shved, and on the shot, Kosta Koufos was called for goal-tending.
Shved hit the ensuing free throw, and when the Timberwolves got the ball, Pekovic was able to convert a pair of free throws and Minnesota had an 86-79 lead.
“That was huge,” Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said of the swing.
NOTES: Minnesota’s last win over the Grizzlies was Feb. 6, 2010. The Timberwolves last win in Memphis was Jan. 6, 2009. … The Grizzlies had an 11-game winning streak over Golden State snapped earlier this month. … Kevin Martin, Minnesota’s second-leading scorer with a 21.5 average, was held scoreless. Martin’s last game without scoring was Feb. 14, 2012, against Memphis when he was with the Houston Rockets.
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)