THE FACTS: The Minnesota Timberwolves took advantage of a team even more injury-riddled than them, defeating the Boston Celtics 110-100 Monday night. Nikola Pekovic paced the Wolves with a season-high 29 points while Andrei Kirilenko added 17 points, nine boards and five assists. The pairs' solid interior play led to a massive 62-to-38 advantage for the Wolves in the paint against the much smaller and depleted Celtics.
Avery Bradley had 19 points for Boston who were without all of their current Big Three as Paul Pierce missed the game with an ankle injury he suffered last night in New York. Their reserves were no match for the Wolves interior attack. Pekovic scored 15 first quarter points and without Garnett, and with Chris Wilcox in foul trouble, the Celtics had no effective way to control him throughout the night. Minnesota's win snapped an 11 game losing streak to the Celtics.
QUOTABLE I: "They really didn't have an answer for Pek. Pek got us going at the start of the game and carried right on through. With all their guys out, especially when Wilcox got in foul trouble right away, we did a nice job of finding him and he did a great job of being active. We didn't mention (he only had) five rebounds....he said he was an offensive player tonight."
-- Wolves coach Rick Adelman on Pekovic's dominance inside.
TURNING POINT: In a game devoid of signature moves or defining moments, the Timberwolves quietly put together a 17-6 run at the end of the second quarter and into the third. The run gave the Wolves their first double-digit lead and Boston was unable to recover as they never got closer than six points from there.
HOT: Minnesota's offense. After a temporary hiccup against Memphis on Saturday in which they scored just 86 points, the Wolves continued their recent offensive assault which has seen them average 104 points over their past seven contests. They had five players in double figures tonight, and committed only eight turnovers -- the 18th time in the past 22 games they've had fewer turnovers than their opponent.
QUOTABLE II: "We are moving the ball better. We have a better understanding of what we want to do. Especially when Pek is out there we know he is going to draw attention going in. Our guards are doing a nice job. I think a lot of it is with Ricky (Rubio), Luke (Ridnour), J.J. (Barea), and Lexi (Shved)....we get all four of those guys making good decisions and it really helps."
-- Adelman on why the Wolves are suddenly surging offensively.
NOT: Boston is stumbling towards the post-season. While a playoff berth is not in jeopardy with an eight-game lead over ninth place Milwaukee, the Celtics have now lost seven of nine and look nowhere near ready to battle Miami, New York, or Indiana in the first round. Even with Pierce in the lineup, New York blew out Boston on Monday 108-89.
GOOD MOVE: Playing starters Rubio and Pekovic for over 20 minutes each in the first half. The two Europeans never stopped moving on offense or defense, and that consistent energy kept the Wolves from the long scoring droughts they experienced against Memphis on Saturday.
FANTASY SPOTLIGHT: Kirilenko was the main fantasy standout tonight as he added two steals for a four-category contribution -- a line reminiscent to his days in Utah when he stuffed the stat sheet on a nightly basis.
INSIDE THE ARENA: Timberwolves fans were disappointed Garnett was injured in his only visit back to Minnesota this year, particularly as Garnett's career winds down. Garnett was drafted 5th overall in 1995 by the Wolves and played 12 seasons for Minnesota.
QUOTABLE III: "Every year we don't know if it's his last time (returning to Minnesota.) We all hope not. But you never know with Kevin. Every summer from this point on in his career he's going to decide if he's coming back or not. You'd want him to play in his last game here, so let's hope this isn't."
-- Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
NOTABLE: Pekovic saw his streak end at 68 games in which he has grabbed an offensive rebound. It was the 2nd longest streak in the NBA to injured teammate Kevin Love's current 75 game run....The Wolves were 5 of 18 from beyond the arc tonight, dropping them below 30 percent the season. Only one NBA team (Charlotte) in the last 10 years has finished below 30 percent from 3-point range....The victory brought Adelman to within two of 1,000 career wins. Only seven other coaches have reached this mark.....Rivers said before the game that he expects Pierce to play Wednesday against Detroit.....Jeff Green had just 10 points tonight after averaging 23.5 points in his last four games.
UP NEXT: For the Celtics, Wednesday vs. Detroit, Friday vs. Cleveland, Sunday vs. Washington. For the Wolves, Wednesday @ Milwaukee, Friday vs. Toronto, Saturday vs. Detroit.