Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/28/12
SACRAMENTO -- Minnesota All-Star power forward Kevin Love says his game is nowhere near his normal level. However, the Timberwolves badly needed a victory Tuesday, and he made sure they got one. Minnesota executed down the stretch and ended a five-game losing streak with a 97-89 victory over the Sacramento Kings before a small crowd of 10,741 at Sleep Train Arena. Love finished with 23 points and an NBA season-high 24 rebounds. He did most of his work around the basket, but his biggest hoop came on a 15-foot turnaround launch as the shot clock expired with 12 seconds left. The basket gave the Wolves a 95-89 lead and ended Sacramento's comeback bid. Thanks to Love, Minnesota dominated the Kings on the boards, 51-36. Love was playing in just his fourth game of the season as he comes back from a broken right hand. "I'm still a ways away," he said. "I came back and played three games in four nights with no practice. I had one practice (Monday), and then right into a back-to-back (with Minnesota playing Wednesday at the Los Angeles Clippers). I kind of threw myself into the gauntlet a little bit, but I said the whole time, once my hand was clear, I was going to be out there." Love impressed Kings coach Keith Smart. "Kevin is going to do what not a lot of people like to do," the coach said, "and that's play in the paint, be physical and rebound the basketball. That's one of his super strengths." All five starters scored in double figures for the Wolves (6-7). Luke Ridnour scored 18 points, Nikola Pekovic had 16 points and eight rebounds, Andrei Kirilenko contributed 14 points, and Malcolm Lee scored 10. DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans each scored 20 points to lead the Kings (4-10). Sacramento's Marcus Thornton and Isaiah Thomas added 12 points apiece off the bench. Cousins grabbed just five rebounds and made just nine of a team-high 22 field-goal attempts. Wolves coach Rick Adelman said his team's victory was crucial. "Obviously, with what we've been doing lately, that's a terrific win, from start to finish," he said. "We made plays and defended very well." Minnesota led 48-45 at halftime, as the Wolves used superior execution and ball movement to outplay the Kings. Both qualities helped the Wolves get to the free-throw line for eight shots (making seven) before the break. The Kings could not run their offense effectively and did not get to the free-throw line in the first half. For a team that often struggles to shoot well from the perimeter, Sacramento's ineffective execution hurt in more way than one. Cousins led the Kings with 12 first-half points. Thornton added 10 points before intermission, and Evans had nine. No other Sacramento player scored more than four points in the first half. The Wolves had far more balanced scoring in the first half. Pekovic scored 12 to lead Minnesota, while Love was strong with eight points and 11 rebounds. Love helped the Wolves take a 25-19 first-half advantage on the boards. No member of the Kings grabbed more than three rebounds. Minnesota shot 44 percent on the night, while the Kings finished at 45.8 percent. NOTES: The mayor of Virginia Beach, Va., unveiled plans Tuesday for an 18,500-seat arena. According to persistent media reports, Virginia Beach is attempting to woo the Kings, who remain unhappy with their arena in Sacramento. Kings spokesman Troy Hanson told the Virginian-Pilot newspaper, "We're not going to comment on relocation rumors." ... The Wolves still are without swingman Chase Budinger (left knee surgery), guard Brandon Roy (right knee surgery) and point guard Ricky Rubio (left ACL surgery). ... Kings starting point guard Aaron Brooks entered the game having shot .727 from the field and .647 from 3-point range in his previous five games. He hit just two of seven shots against the Wolves, one of four from beyond the arc.
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