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The Sports Xchange, Published December 15 2013

Timberwolves fight off Memphis Grizzlies

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – On a night when the Minnesota Timberwolves would make a season-high 12 3-pointers and power forward Kevin Love would score 30 points, a victory still would not come easily.

Minnesota led by as many as 19 points in the second quarter, but the Memphis Grizzlies kept clawing back. They drew as close as two points in the fourth quarter and were within three as late as the

2-minute, 26-second mark when Memphis power forward Zach Randolph made a finger-roll layup. But that’s where the comeback ended.

“We got a couple of stops and got out of here,” Love said.

The Timberwolves broke their 11-game losing streak to the Grizzlies, and an eight-game losing streak in Memphis with a 101-93 victory Sunday night. The Timberwolves last beat the Grizzlies in February of 2010 in Minnesota. The last win in Memphis came in January of 2009.

“I can’t remember winning here,” said Love, who hit 4 of 8 from 3-point range as Minnesota (12-12) made 12 of 26 (46.2 percent). Love also had nine rebounds and four assists.

Much worse for the Grizzlies (10-13), point guard Mike Conley limped off the court with just under four minutes left in the fourth quarter. Conley scored a team-high 28 points on 12-for-20 shooting from the floor, including 4-for-8 from 3-point range. Memphis is already without All-Star center Marc Gasol (left MCL sprain).

Conley said he took a knee to his left quad and he’s planning to be available for the Grizzlies’ game Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Lakers.

“It was frustrating,” Conley said. “I felt like I had it going and I let my team down.”

The Grizzlies have been plagued by injuries throughout the season. Shooting guard Tony Allen just returned to the lineup and Gasol is expected to be out for at least several more weeks. Swingman Quincy Pondexter already has been lost for the season.

“Things have been our way for the last four years – we were one of the least-injured teams,” Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. “We’ve had some wonderful non-injury times. ... It seems like it’s our turn to catch that bug.”

Memphis was down just two at 81-79 with 9:24 to play when backup point guard Nick Calathes tried to force a driving layup. Minnesota forward Dante Cunningham blocked it. On the other end, Timberwolves guard Alexey Shved went in for a layup. Memphis center Kosta Koufos was called for goaltending and forward Ed Davis was called for a flagrant-1 foul at the 9:19 mark. Shved made two free throws, Minnesota got the ball back and then Davis fouled center Nikola Pekovic at the 9:06 mark and he made two free throws.

By that point, the Timberwolves’ lead was back to seven points.

“That was huge,” Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said.

Love got plenty of support from his teammates, as Pekovic scored 19 points, guard Jose Barea scored 15 with five assists off the bench, point guard Ricky Rubio finished with 12 points and forward Corey Brewer contributed nine points and 12 rebounds.

Randolph had a double-double with 20 points and 12 boards. Memphis forward Jon Leuer scored 15 off the bench with nine rebounds and reserve guard Jerryd Bayless had 14 points.

Love missed all three games with Memphis last season due to hand surgery. He didn’t waste time going to work Sunday, scoring 19 first-half points on 7-for-12 shooting from the floor, 3-for-5 from behind the arc.

Joerger said all the normal principles for guarding a power forward don’t apply with Love.

“(Randolph’s) natural instinct as a big is to lean in and try to help, or block a shot or whatever,” Joerger said. “We’ve been doing that since we were eight years old. Well, Kevin Love is the opposite. He doesn’t need much room to get going.”

Minnesota 28 28 21 24 — 101:

Memphis 17 29 27 20 — 93:

MINNESOTA (101)

Love 11-21 4-4 30, C.Brewer 4-8 0-2 9, Rubio 3-9 4-5 12, Pekovic 6-12 7-8 19, Kv.Martin 0-3 0-0 0, D.Cunningham 2-7 0-2 4, Barea 5-10 2-2 15, Hummel 1-3 0-0 3, Shved 2-4 1-1 6, Mbah a Moute 1-2 1-1 3. Totals 35-79 19-25 101.

MEMPHIS (93)

Z.Randolph 7-19 6-8 20, Conley 12-20 0-1 28, T.Allen 3-4 1-2 7, Prince 1-5 0-0 2, Koufos 1-4 0-0 2, Leuer 7-13 0-0 15, Bayless 4-9 6-8 14, M.Miller 2-5 1-1 5, Calathes 0-2 0-0 0, E.Davis 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 37-83 14-20 93.

3-Point Goals: Minnesota 12-26 (Love 4-8, Barea 3-5, Rubio 2-3, Hummel 1-2, Shved 1-2, C.Brewer 1-4, Kv.Martin 0-2), Memphis 5-15 (Conley 4-8, Leuer 1-3, Bayless 0-2, M.Miller 0-2). Fouled out: None. Rebounds: Minnesota 49 (C.Brewer 12), Memphis 53 (Z.Randolph 12). Assists: Minnesota 22 (Barea 5), Memphis 17 (Z.Randolph 5). Total Fouls: Minnesota 17 (Pekovic 5), Memphis 20 (Z.Randolph 5). A—15,417.