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The Sports Xchange, Published January 01 2014

Timberwolves topple Pelicans

MINNEAPOLIS – Shaking off the bitter residue from Monday’s loss, the Minnesota Timberwolves turned Wednesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans into a real New Year’s celebration and a 124-112 victory at Target Center.

Two nights after they left the court outraged following a controversial finish in a defeat against the Dallas Mavericks, the Wolves put away the Pelicans early.

The Wolves turned a 14-point halftime lead into a second-half advantage that grew to as many as 30 points and never lower than 10 until very late.

Minnesota center Nikola Pekovic scored 22 points, forward Kevin Love scored 21 and guard Kevin Martin added 20, and the team’s bench contributed as well.

The Wolves (16-16) tied a season high for scoring and shot a season-best 55.7 percent from the field.

Forward Ryan Anderson scored a game-high 25 points for New Orleans (14-16). Guard Jrue Holiday added 19 points.

Minnesota’s reserves scored just five points in Monday’s 100-98 loss to Dallas, when the Wolves screamed for a foul call on Love’s final-second shot and got no response until the NBA declared a day later that Mavericks forward Shawn Marion indeed fouled Love.

On Wednesday, the Wolves’ bench outscored the Pelicans’ reserves 42-39, thanks to backup point guard J.J. Barea’s 17 points and 10 points each from guard Alexey Shved and forward Dante Cunningham.

Before Wednesday’s game, Pelicans coach Monty Williams was asked about his team his seeking some consistency after Monday’s spunky 110-108 home victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

“That game is over with,” he said. “We can’t rely on anything from the Portland game to help us tonight. We want to be consistent every night.”

The Pelicans are still searching for consistency.

The Wolves led 61-47 at halftime, and a 24-6 run in the third quarter put the game out of reach.

Minnesota did it by exploiting advantages inside against a Pelicans that had to decide whether it would use long, lean forward Anthony Davis against either Love or Pekovic and put Anderson on the other guy.

Williams asked Anderson to defend Pekovic much of the night, a move that kept Love from reaching at least 25 points scored for the first time in 12 games, partly because of Davis’ defense and partly because of the game’s blowout nature that kept Love on the bench for the game’s final eight minutes.

However, the strategy came at the expense of Pekovic scoring inside seemingly at will and the Wolves getting to the basket and drawing foul after foul. The Wolves shot 24 free throws in the first half alone and 35 for the game, New Orleans finished with 22 foul shots.

New Orleans 28 19 26 39 — 112:

Minnesota 33 28 36 27 — 124:

NEW ORLEANS (112)

R.Anderson 10-17 3-3 25, A.Davis 5-9 3-6 13, E.Gordon 5-12 2-2 12, Holiday 8-14 2-4 19, Aminu 2-6 0-0 4, T.Evans 6-14 3-4 16, Rivers 2-3 0-0 4, Roberts 1-3 0-0 3, Morrow 3-4 0-0 7, Ajinca 1-3 0-0 2, D.Miller 1-1 1-1 3, Stiemsma 0-0 0-0 0, Withey 1-1 2-2 4. Totals 45-87 16-22 112.

MINNESOTA (124)

Love 7-19 6-8 21, Pekovic 7-12 8-11 22, Rubio 4-6 5-6 14, Kv.Martin 8-14 4-5 20, C.Brewer 2-4 0-0 5, Cunningham 5-6 0-0 10, Barea 7-9 0-0 17, Shved 2-4 4-4 10, Mbah a Moute 1-1 1-1 3, Hummel 0-2 0-0 0, Muhammad 1-1 0-0 2, A.Price 0-0 0-0 0, Dieng 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 44-79 28-35 124.

3-Point Goals: New Orleans 6-20 (R.Anderson 2-8, T.Evans 1-1, Roberts 1-1, Holiday 1-2, Morrow 1-2, Aminu 0-1, Rivers 0-1, E.Gordon 0-4), Minnesota 8-22 (Barea 3-5, Shved 2-4, C.Brewer 1-1, Rubio 1-1, Love 1-7, Hummel 0-1, Kv.Martin 0-3). Fouled out: None. Rebounds: New Orleans 48 (T.Evans 7), Minnesota 42 (Rubio 8). Assists: New Orleans 20 (Holiday 5), Minnesota 26 (Rubio 9). Total Fouls: New Orleans 25 (A.Davis, Holiday 4), Minnesota 20 (C.Brewer, Cunningham 4). A—14,002.