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Timberwolves bounce back for big 106-88 win over Celtics

Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love (42) smiles and congratulates Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Kevin Martin (23) after making a three point shot in the second half against the Boston Celtics at Target Center. The TImberwolves won 106-88. Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Sports Xchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves understood the message: Good teams don't let one loss turn into two and good teams find a way to pull out winnable games at home.

That's why the Timberwolves were especially satisfied with Saturday's 106-88 victory over the Boston Celtics.

The Wolves were playing their fifth game in seven days and they played disappointing defense in Friday night's loss at Denver. If Minnesota is truly going to make the step from lottery team to playoff team, home games against under .500 teams have to be victories.

"We've talked about from the beginning of the year that we were not good last year at home," Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said. "We had our moments, but we were not consistent. If you're going to be a decent team, you've got to win at home and hopefully you break even on the road. Every time we come here, we have to take advantage of it."

That's exactly what happened against the Celtics. The NBA's second highest scoring team, the Timberwolves continued to get points in bunches from a variety of sources. Power forward Kevin Love scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, while center Nikola Pekovic scored 20 and grabbed 12 rebounds and guard Kevin Martin added 20 points.

That trio was too much for Boston to overcome despite point guard Avery Bradley scoring a season-high 27 points and power forward Brandon Bass adding 15. No other Celtics player scored more than 10.

"If you're a good team, you have to win games like this," Love said. "We let them stick around for a while, but we put them away. In years past, when we were young and inexperienced, we would have been on the other side of it."

Martin, one of the newest Timberwolves, knew the importance of bouncing back from the Denver loss.

"We realize what is at stake," Martin said. "In the past, this might not be a serious game for them, but tonight we realized we had to get over the hump of staying at one, two games over .500. We want to get to three or four and in a couple of weeks push it to five, six. That's the kind of effort you need."

Now three games over .500, the victory also allowed the Timberwolves to go 3-2 in a stretch in which they played five games in seven days. The 7-4 start to the season is the second best in Timberwolves franchise history and Minnesota has scored at least 100 points in each of its victories.

After winning four consecutive games to get back to .500, the Celtics (4-7) have now lost three games in a row with road games at Houston and San Antonio upcoming early next week.

Leading by only five at halftime, Minnesota took control of the game midway through the third quarter. Pounding the ball inside and getting to the free throw line, Minnesota went on a 16-2 run. When love made a pair of free throws with 5:30 to play in the third, the Timberwolves led 75-57.

"That's what we talked about at halfitme, they're not going to stop playing, they're going to come at you," Adelman said. "You have to take the first five minutes, you have to take control of the game."

Love, who entered the game second in the league in both points-per-game and rebounds-per-game, continued his strong start to the season. His double-double was his 10th in 11 games this season and this was his ninth game in which he scored at least 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

"I think that obviously they are a good basketball team, so again it's a broken record, but it's true," Boston coach Brad Stevens said. "They have good players and those players played really well. I think in the third quarter we ran out of steam, which isn't an excuse because they played a back-to-back, too."

The Celtics struggled to get much going offensively for much of the night. One night after scoring a career-high 26 points in a loss to Portland, Boston forward Jared Sullinger was held to three points.

The Celtics struggled to get much going offensively for much of the night. One night after scoring a career-high 26 points in a loss to Portland, Boston forward Jared Sullinger was held to three points.

NOTES: Celtics rookie C Vitor Faverani returned to the starting lineup. Boston coach Brad Stevens said the move was a matchup to counter the size and strength of Timberwolves C Nikola Pekovic. ... Entering his 11th game as an NBA coach, Stevens has a sense for the biggest difference between the college game and the pros. "You get a greater appreciation for how many good teams there are (in the NBA). In college, you're always on edge for the next game, but there are games that are more winnable than others. Here, if you don't play well, you're going to get beat. ... Pekovic was in the Wolves' lineup despite needing significant treatment on his injured foot Friday after a loss at Denver. ... Minnesota F Chase Budinger was back with the team Saturday night. Budinger has been in Florida rehabilitating his surgically repaired left knee. Budinger has not played this season and likely will miss another month.