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The Sports Xchange, Published January 29 2014

Timberwolves take care of Pelicans

MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love caught the Target Center in-game hosts off guard when he grabbed one of their microphones right before tip-off against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.

He thanked the fans in his impromptu speech for his All-Star selection, then he spent the next three hours proving why he was worthy of the honor. Love notched his league-high 27th game recording at least 20-points and 10-rebounds, leading the Timberwolves to a 88-77 win over New Orleans.

Love finished with 30 points and 14 rebounds in 43 minutes and guided the Wolves over .500 for the first time since Nov. 23, 15 games into the season. They were 0-10 in their last 10 opportunities to crack above .500 since their 8-7 start.

Up 67-62 to start the fourth, Love made the first six points in the quarter to spark an 8-0 run. It gave Minnesota a 13-point lead, the largest of the game, and was enough to hold off the Pelicans, who remained in the contest despite shooting 35.4 percent from the floor. Forward Al-Farouq Aminu led New Orleans with 18 points.

The Wolves also finished the first half on an 8-0 run in the final 1 minute, 23 seconds to lead 47-35 at halftime. Love had 18 points and 10 rebounds before the break, shooting 6 of 14 from the floor. Love and guard Kevin Martin, who had 13 points at halftime, combined for 31 of the team’s 47 first-half points. The rest of the team shot 5-for-19.

Martin finished with 18 points.

The Pelicans tied their season low for first-half points. They never held a lead in the game without Anthony Davis, who leads the team in points, rebounds and blocks, and shot 2 of 21 on 3-pointers.

Minnesota led the second quarter with its second unit and still maintained the lead against the Pelicans’ athletic backcourt in backups Tyreke Evans and Austin Rivers, who both struggled from the floor throughout the game. They combined for 19 points on 7 of 24 shooting.

New Orleans 16 19 27 15 — 77

Minnesota 23 24 20 21 — 88

NEW ORLEANS (77)

Aminu 8-13 2-2 18, E.Gordon 5-17 3-5 14, Stiemsma 0-1 3-4 3, Roberts 3-10 3-3 9, Ajinca 2-5 0-0 4, T.Evans 4-15 3-5 11, Withey 1-1 1-2 3, Rivers 3-9 2-2 8, Morrow 3-8 0-0 7, D.Miller 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 29-82 17-23 77.

MINNESOTA (88)

Love 11-26 7-9 30, Kv.Martin 7-18 3-5 18, Turiaf 2-5 0-0 4, C.Brewer 1-4 1-2 3, Rubio 1-4 3-3 5, Barea 4-9 1-2 10, Mbah a Moute 0-2 3-4 3, Cunningham 6-7 0-0 12, Budinger 1-5 0-0 3, Dieng 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 33-82 18-25 88.

3-Point Goals: New Orleans 2-21 (Morrow 1-3, E.Gordon 1-5, D.Miller 0-1, Aminu 0-2, T.Evans 0-3, Rivers 0-3, Roberts 0-4), Minnesota 4-20 (Budinger 1-2, Barea 1-3, Love 1-6, Kv.Martin 1-6, Rubio 0-1, C.Brewer 0-2). Fouled out: None. Rebounds: New Orleans 58 (Aminu, Stiemsma 12), Minnesota 57 (Love 14). Assists: New Orleans 12 (Roberts, T.Evans 3), Minnesota 23 (Rubio, Barea 6). Total Fouls: New Orleans 26 (Rivers 5), Minnesota 21 (Turiaf, Rubio 4). A—11,702.