Created: 12/14/2012 10:50 PM KSTP.com By: Chris Long
Nikola Pekovic scored a season-high 31 points, Andrei Kirilenko had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and the Minnesota Timberwolves won their third straight game, 113-102 over the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night.
Pekovic was 14 for 18 from the field, scoring almost exclusively inside where Minnesota finished with a whopping 70-42 scoring advantage despite an off night for Kevin Love, who made only 4 of 18 shots.
Love appeared to injure the thumb on his shooting hand while defending late in the game. Love immediately left the floor and went to the locker room. X-rays were negative and the team announced after the game Love suffered a bruise. His status for Saturday night's home game against Dallas is not clear.
Love finished with 14 points, while Luke Ridnour had 15 points and 10 assists. Alexey Shved scored 13 points and Jose Barea 12.
Hornets rookie Austin Rivers had a career-high 27 points, scoring 19 in the first half. Ryan Anderson added 20 points for New Orleans, which has lost five straight and 15 of 17.
Greivis Vasquez added 15 points and a career-high 17 assists, and Anthony Davis, playing a reserve role as he works his way back from an ankle injury, had 11 points for the Hornets.
Minnesota outrebounded New Orleans 40-30. The Timberwolves had 14 offensive rebounds and 24 second-chance points.
The Hornets led 62-59 after Vasquez used a spin move to set up a leaner off the glass, but Ridnour, who made all three 3s he attempted, made one to tie it at 62. Shved followed with a 3 and the Wolves never trailed again.
Kirilenko's dunk off an alley-oop pass and Pekovic's basket inside made it 82-73 at the end of the third quarter.
New Orleans made one more run, pulling to 90-86 on Roberts' 3-pointer, but Minnesota responded with a 7-0 run during which Kirilenko scored twice inside, once for a three-point play.
The lead grew as large as 109-93 late in the fourth quarter.
Minnesota led by as many as nine points on two occasions early in the second quarter, the second time on Derrick Williams' dunk off an alley-oop pass that made it 42-33.
Rivers then hit two jumpers during a 6-0 run, and he later added a 3 and a driving layup as the Hornets made eight straight shots to close the half and briefly take a 50-48 lead before Kirilenko tied it at 50 at halftime.
Notes: The Hornets were without 7-foot reserve F-C Jason Smith with a sprained right shoulder. He's expected to miss up to two weeks. ... Minnesota swingman Josh Howard hyperextended his right knee in the third quarter and was not able to return. ... Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said guard Ricky Rubio, who has been sidelined by a left knee injury since last March, worked out in Minnesota on Friday and could return Saturday night in Dallas. ... Anderson was 4 of 11 on 3-pointer attempts and has 73 3s.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)