A big lead against the 76ers kept on swelling, making for a light night of work for Kevin Love and the front-liners.
PHILADELPHIA – Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman spoke before Monday’s 126-95 victory at Philadelphia about “turning the page” on Saturday’s bitter home loss to Oklahoma City.
Does a rout of a team that just had won the final four games of a challenging West Coast road trip and a final score that tied the second- largest road victory in franchise history qualify?
“I think so,” Wolves star Kevin Love said afterward.
Love was the guy Saturday who missed three consecutive free throws in the final 30 seconds in a game carried by the starters until those final moments.
On Monday, the Wolves led a young, enigmatic 76ers team by 16 points at halftime and by as many as 33 in the second half. And Adelman got plenty from a bench energized by backup center Ronny Turiaf’s return. No Wolves starter played more than Love’s 29 minutes.
The Wolves made 16 three-pointers — two shy of the franchise record set against Cleveland in 2010 — and their 31-point victory was four shy of the largest road victory in franchise history, set right there in Philadelphia in December 2004. Their 126 points were a season high.
It also got the 17-17 Wolves back to the .500 mark, a threshold they have reached six times in the past five weeks without crossing over into winning territory.
“It was my fault last game,” Love said, referring to Saturday’s loss. “A couple other games haven’t gone our way that would have gotten us over that hump. Just getting over that hump is something we need to get past and something hopefully we won’t be talking about in a couple of weeks.”
Love scored 16 of his team-high 26 points in a decisive third quarter when the Wolves had a 35-20 scoring edge against the 76ers, who flew home from Portland all night Saturday after an emotional victory there capped a six-game trip. The Sixers ended that trip by winning at the L.A. Lakers, Denver, Sacramento and Portland after going 3-17 in the 20 games before that.
“Yes, we had a successful road trip and we played a lot of games in a few days and we came from one side of the country to the other,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “But that’s the NBA.”
The last time these teams played each other, the Wolves trailed by 19 points in the first half at Target Center against a Philadelphia team that pushes the ball at every opportunity — and still they won. On Monday, the Sixers never led after early in the second quarter.
“We came out ready to play,” Adelman said. “Maybe them coming off that trip was a factor, too. I just like the way we came out and our attitude.”
That attitude was bolstered by Turiaf’s return. He hadn’t played a game since Nov. 1 because of an elbow injury but provided the Wolves’ second unit with a presence it lacks. Turiaf didn’t score a point, but he had nine rebounds, two blocked shots and an assist in 22-plus minutes.
“He makes a big difference,” said Adelman, who also is awaiting the return of Chase Budinger any game now. “He just knows how to play, and he’s going to challenge shots at the rim. He’s going to give us that. He knows what his strengths are. He’ll be a big difference.”