Notebook: Timberwolves 94, 76ers 87

Posted Feb 21, 2013 12:03 AM

By Jim Beilby, For

THE FACTS: Even without Kevin Love, Minnesota's frontcourt was too much for Philadelphia as the Timberwolves defeated the 76ers 94-87 on Wednesday night. Minnesota center Nikola Pekovic led the way for Minnesota (20-31), scoring 27 and grabbing 18 rebounds (including seven offensive boards). Starting in Love's absence and playing much better recently, Derrick Williams had 17 points and eight rebounds. Philadelphia's front court of Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen couldn't even match Pekovic's output combined, as the pair went for 17 points and 14 rebounds total for the Sixers (22-30).

Minnesota started fast, scoring in the first six seconds on a half-court alley-oop from Ricky Rubio to Andrei Kirilenko, and they never looked back as they led from wire to wire. Philadelphia's Evan Turner got hot in the third quarter, scoring 14 of his 17 points and Minnesota struggled to make shots in the fourth quarter, making only a single field goal. It was only the second time in franchise history the Wolves have failed to make a pair of field goals in the fourth quarter. But their defensive pressure was sufficient to maintain their lead, as the 76ers never got within four points.

QUOTABLE: "[Nikola Pekovic] crushed us: 27 points and 18 rebounds. They get to the line 44 times. The keys to the game tonight were rebounding, points in the paint and free throws. They made 33 points at the free-throw line, they had 34 points in the paint and they outrebounded us by 12. ... We played terribly, I don't know what else to say. It was terrible. No energy, no life at all. It was terrible. I can't candy-coat it any more than that."

-- Philadelphia coach Doug Collins

THE STAT: Minnesota crushed Philadelphia on the boards, especially in the first half. At halftime, Minnesota held a 35-15 rebounding edge. And they maintained that margin, outrebounding Philadelphia 62-42 for the game. Minnesota's frontcourt dominance was also on display in the number of times the got to the line. They shot a season high 44 free throws.

TURNING POINT: Philadelphia cut Minnesota's lead to four twice in the final three minutes of the game. But, both times, Minnesota's front court stepped up big. The first time, Pekovic got the ball down low and drew a foul and both free throws. The second time, he got a pair of offensive rebounds and eventually Rubio was able to draw a foul and get to the line. His made free throws gave Minnesota a six point lead with 24.1 seconds to play.

QUOTABLE II: "We played really well in the first half. We got off to a really slow start in the third quarter when it seemed like we couldn't get on track. But Pek[ovic] was terrific. It was a good win to start after the break."

-- Minnesota coach Rick Adelman

FANTASY SPOTLIGHT: With 17 points and eight rebounds tonight, Williams continues to shake his sophomore slump. He has averaged 16.0 points and 8.8 rebounds over his last five contests.

IN THE ARENA: Hip-hop artist Nelly took in the game at Target Center.

NOTABLE: With his six assists, Rubio passed the 500 assist mark for his career ... This is the third straight for the Wolves over Philadelphia and completes a season sweep for the first time since the 2006-07 season ... Minnesota has defeated Philadelphia in six of their last seven contests at the Target Center ... The 76ers have now lost their last seven road games and are 6-17 on the road this season ... Only the Washington Wizards and Sacramento Kings have fewer road wins this season.

UP NEXT: For the Wolves, Friday @ Oklahoma City, Sunday vs. Golden State, Tuesday @ Phoenix. For the 76ers, Saturday vs. Miami, Sunday @ New York, Tuesday vs. Orlando.