MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota Timberwolves team that had not defeated the Los Angeles Lakers since 2007 until this season now has beaten them twice in three meetings after Tuesday’s 109-99 victory at Target Center.
But the Timberwolves did not make it easy on themselves once again.
Leading by 25 points in the second quarter, the Timberwolves held off a hurting Lakers team that lost seven consecutive games and 13 of 15. The Lakers allowed 100 or more points in every one of those 15 games, including Tuesday.
Wolves shooting guard Kevin Martin scored 32 points and Kevin Love had 31 points and 17 rebounds on a night when the Lakers pulled within seven points in the fourth quarter but could get no further.
Point guard Ricky Rubio added two points and 13 assists.
Love surpassed Kevin Garnett and became the Timberwolves player with the most 30-point, 15-rebound games in franchise history. He delivered his 25th such game Tuesday.
Swingman Nick Young scored 24 points for the Lakers, whose bench scored 72 of the team’s points.
The Wolves survived a scare when Love went down hard on his back after he was fouled driving to the basket with 4:10 left in the game. He remained down and motionless before finally being helped up and, after a timeout, stayed in the game and went to the free-throw line.
He ended up playing all but the final 29 seconds of the second half in the first of four games the Wolves will play the next five nights.
On the injury front for the Lakers, starting guard Jodie Meeks lasted just 86 seconds before he left the game never to return because of a right ankle sprain. Power forward Jordan Hill hurt his neck in the second quarter and didn’t play again and guard Steve Blake, playing his first game since Dec. 10 because of an elbow injury, ruptured his eardrum but kept on playing. On the bright side, guard Steve Nash started Tuesday’s contest, playing his first game since Nov. 10. He played over 24 minutes and scored seven points while dishing out nine assists after missing 39 games with a back injury.
The Wolves led 8-2, 11-4 early and 36-24 late in the first quarter before extending their lead to as much as 56-31 midway through the second quarter.
They did with Martin scoring 19 of his points and Love 18 of his by halftime on a night when the Lakers started without their two stars and seemingly had players fall injured at every turn.
Still, they scrapped their way back in the third quarter, getting that 25-point, second-quarter deficit down to as little as 75-68 with five minutes remaining in the third.
The Wolves pushed back, pushing their lead to as many as 15 points late in the third quarter before the Lakers got back within seven points — at 91-84 — early in the fourth quarter.
NOTES: Lakers G Jodie Meeks left the game after just 86 seconds because of a right ankle sprain and was not expected to return to the game. … Lakers F Jordan Hill hurt his neck in the second quarter and was not expected to return, either. …Two-time league MVP G Steve Nash started Tuesday’s contest, playing his first game since the Timberwolves routed the Lakers in Los Angeles on Nov. 10. He missed 39 games because of what the Lakers called a “nerve root irritation” in his back. He played 24:37. Coach Mike D’Antoni said he will not play back-to-back games, starting with Wednesday’s game at Cleveland. “I’m just happy to get a chance to play again and hopefully get a little bit of conditioning and rhythm in a game and clawing my way back to where I can have an impact,” Nash said. … Lakers G Steve Blake also returned Tuesday, his first game since Dec. 10 because of an elbow injury. … The Timberwolves and the WNBA’s Lynx announced they are joining with the Mayo Clinic in a practice facility adjacent to Target Center that will house the Mayo Clinic Square sports-medicine facility as well as two practice courts. The Mayo Clinic is located in Rochester, Minn. …The Timberwolves now practice in a designated part of a private health club in the Target Center basement.
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