Mistake-free Wolves win a laugher in Philly

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 5, 2012 - 6:26 AM

They used strong defense and made 52 percent of their three-pointers.

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PHILADELPHIA - Imagine this: The Timberwolves are on the road against a winning team, with one starter back at home. Kevin Love can't buy a shot and Nikola Pekovic is about as much of a non-factor as the big guy can be.

And this happens?

The Wolves won 105-88 in front of a rather small and clearly shocked crowd at Wells Fargo Center. It was, almost from start to finish, a one-sided, remarkably mistake-free laugher in which the Wolves made the 76ers look as if they were playing in slow motion.

There was strong defense, dizzying ball movement, uncanny shooting and extended periods of rest for Wolves starters with a game in Boston on Wednesday night.

"Just a great win, from start to finish," said a happy coach Rick Adelman. "We would like to get a run going. And usually you get a run going in this league when you win on the road. This is big for us. Now tomorrow, we have to snap back and play."

The Wolves (8-8) set season highs in:

• Margin of victory (17). It was the first time the Wolves surpassed 100 points in 13 games;

• Three-pointers made (13) and three-point shooting (52.0 percent);

• Field-goal shooting overall (53.2 percent);

• Biggest half of the season (65 in the first half);

• And Kiss-Cam appearances (1). That came in the fourth quarter, when the in-arena camera focused on a resting Kevin Love and Lou Amundson. Love grinned and tried to hug Amundson, who cringed.

It was the only cringe-worthy moment of the night for the Wolves, who broke a four-game losing steak in Philadelphia.

Barea got his first double-double of the season, with 11 points and 10 assists. Josh Howard got his first double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) since April 10, 2009, when he was playing in Dallas.

The four Wolves guards -- starters Luke Ridnour and Malcolm Lee and backups J.J. Barea and Alexey Shved -- combined to score 48 points on 18-for-30 shooting with 19 assists and only six turnovers. Remember awhile back when the Wolves backcourt was getting burned? In three of the past four games, the guards have won most of the battles.

"We all have to play our game," Barea said. "We have to stay aggressive, no matter what [Love] does. If he's playing good we still have to do our thing. We can't just rely on him."

Love got his 10 boards, but he scored only six points on 2-for-10 shooting, ending his double-double streak at six games. But it didn't matter, because seven teammates scored in double figures.

The Wolves held a one-point lead when Lee's three-pointer started a 14-2 run to end the first quarter. Then the second unit took over, keeping the pedal to the metal, with a 10-3 lead to start the second quarter that put the Wolves up 44-24.

They never led by fewer than 14 the rest of the way, and that's why four of five starters rested the entire fourth quarter; Love played a season-low 25:51.

"I think everybody just came to play," Ridnour said. "We made shots. We moved the ball. Just an all-around good team win."

It was a performance Adelman hopes carries over to Boston.

"Two things we did -- we were consistent defensively and we moved the ball," he said. "The ball moved from side to side; there was only a couple of times when we got stagnant. When we moved the ball good things happened. It's always nice when you hit shots, too."

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