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The Sports Xchange, Published January 06 2014

Timberwolves breeze past 76ers

PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown said before Monday’s game against Minnesota that one of the bigger challenges facing his team was “the two lumberjacks you have to deal with,” a reference to the Timberwolves’ imposing inside tandem of Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic.

Love and Pekovic then played an enormous role in cutting the Sixers down to size. Love, a power forward, scored 26 points and Pekovic, a center, had 16 points and 14 rebounds as Minnesota rolled to a 126-95 victory, ending a season-long four-game winning streak by Philadelphia (12-22).

Love, who shot 7-for-12 in all, went 4-for-7 from 3-point range, part of a 16-for-26 barrage by Minnesota from the arc (61.5 percent). Guard Kevin Martin, who finished with 18 points, sank three 3-pointers, as did guard/forward Corey Brewer and guard J.J. Barea. Brewer and Barea finished with 15 and 13 points, respectively.

Minnesota (17-17), which led by as many as 33 points in the second half, beat Philadelphia for the fifth straight time.

Forward Thaddeus Young, just named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, paced Philadelphia with 20 points. But the Sixers turned the ball over 23 times, after averaging just 13.5 during their winning streak. Those miscues led to 30 Minnesota points.

The game was tied nine times in the first 17 minutes, the last time at 46-46 on a basket by Sixers guard Michael Carter-Williams with 7:06 left in the first half. But the Timberwolves ended the second quarter on a 24-8 spree to take a 70-54 lead at the break. Pekovic registered eight of his points in that stretch, and finished the half with 10.

Brewer led Minnesota with 15 in the half, and Young topped the Sixers with 15.

The T-wolves then limited the Sixers to 8-for-23 shooting while outscoring them 35-20 in the third quarter, a period that saw Love score 16 of his points.