Love helps Timberwolves outlast Suns, 127-124
PHOENIX (AP) Kevin Love got comfortable Monday night and then he got in a groove at the right time.
Love scored 13 of his game-high 30 points in the fourth quarter and the Minnesota Timberwolves outlasted the Phoenix Suns 127-124.
"The biggest thing for me is I didn't get a good warm up," said Love, who set a franchise mark with his 15th 30-point game of the season. "I had good looks in the first half but the ball never really felt right in my hand. I decided to get my legs under me in the second half and that was the biggest difference."
Love had been relatively quiet over the first three quarters, hitting only one 3-pointer and scoring 14 points through the game's first 34 minutes.
But he hit a 3 to key a 7-0 Minnesota run late in the third then hit consecutive 3s in the first minute of the fourth as the Timberwolves took a 98-92 lead.
Love finished 11 of 23 from the floor, including 5-of-9 shooting from behind the arc.
"We just have to do a better job of understanding what happens in (defensive) rotations," said Suns coach Alvin Gentry. "We can't let Kevin Love catch the ball and shoot nine threes without ever putting it down."
Nikola Pekovic scored 24 points and Derrick Williams added 19 to help the Timberwolves snap a nine-game losing streak in Phoenix.
The Timberwolves got 52 points from their reserves, with Michael Beasley and Wayne Ellington scoring 15 apiece.
"There are people on this bench who can start for other teams," Williams said. "We don't have a weak point."
"We just did a poor job defensively, obviously," Dudley said. "But even with that our offense kept us in the game and still gave us a chance to win the game."
Sebastian Telfair scored six points in seven seconds - converting a four-point play and stealing the ensuing inbounds pass and scoring a layup - to give the Suns a 111-107 lead with 6:38 left.
Luke Ridnour put Minnesota ahead for good, 121-120, with 1:50 to go and the Timberwolves made six straight free throws in the final 37.8 seconds to close out the game.
Phoenix had an opportunity to tie the score in the final seconds but Dudley missed a 3-pointer and Marcin Gortat, who was fouled going for the rebound, missed both free-throw attempts.
Minnesota set season highs for points scored and second-quarter points with 35 while also allowing a season-worst point total. The Suns also set season marks for points scored and allowed and second-half points scored.
Pekovic scored most of his points in the game's opening quarter, totaling 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting to go with four rebounds and a block shot in the first 12 minutes.
"Pekovic really took control of the game early and from there we were chasing guys off threes and chasing off screens," Gentry said. "If you score 125 points you expect to win."
NOTES: Even without Ricky Rubio, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury Friday night, Minnesota finished with a season-best 30 assists. . Love also moved into second place on Minnesota's career rebounding list, passing Sam Campbell with 3,029. He remains in a distant second to Kevin Garnett. . Gortat was in foul trouble from the get-go while defending Pekovic, picking up two-first quarter fouls and his third just over two minutes after he checked into the game in the second. Gortat finished with eight points and four rebounds in just more than 19 minutes. ... Nash and Dudley combined to outscore Minnesota's starting backcourt of Ridnour and Martell Webster 53-12. ... Minnesota shot 56 percent from the floor, Phoenix 52 percent. . Telfair finished with 10 points in just under 16 minutes.
Updated March 13, 2012