The Return of the Pek. We might fill that in for the lyrics of “Return of the Mack” after Friday night’s game at the Target Center. After being out since March 14, Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic was effective and effective early. The big man scored the team’s first six points and finished with a game-high 26 points in a 143-107 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. “It was good to have Pek back,” said Wolves coach Rick Adelman. “It really set the tone inside for us… He did a nice job.” We are here talking about Pekovic, when his All-Star teammate finished with a triple-double. That tells you how good Pekovic was early on.
It started in the first as the Wolves erupted for a 41-24 lead behind 12 points from Pekovic and 15 points, five rebounds and four assists from Kevin Love. The Wolves shot 65 percent in the quarter. The Wolves continued their run against a sloppy Lakers team in the second quarter, leaping to a 74-43 lead. Love was on a triple-double watch with 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Minnesota’s bench was on fire as well, combining for 23 points. Pekovic led Minnesota with 19 points. Nick Young led the Lakers with 11.
The game was all Wolves. There’s really no disputing that. Going into the fourth, the Wolves led 111-77, but as the third quarter ended, Love secured a rebound which ended up giving him a triple-double with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. It was Love’s second career triple-double. “Well, he was coming out, so he better get it there,” Adelman joked, hinting that he planned on taking Love out after the third quarter no matter what. “The ball bounced on the floor too, didn’t it?... But he went after it so he knew where he was.” The Wolves closed out the fourth, giving playing time to rookies Shabazz Muhammad and Robbie Hummel. With 143 points and the win, it ended up being a Cherry Berry Night for Wolves fans. Kevin Martin added 17 points, while Gorgui Dieng led the second unit with 14 points. Corey Brewer and Chase Budinger had 11 points each, while Ricky Rubio had 10 points. Los Angeles was led by Kent Bazemore’s 21 points. Jodie Meeks added 19. MarShon Brooks led the bench with 14. Former Timberwolves forward Wes Johnson finished with 13 points. The Wolves are now 36-35 on the season. Leader of the Pack: Nikola Pekovic
The artist known as the “Dancing Bear” had a reason to dance after Friday night’s big game. It was a welcome back party, and well, the Lakers probably wish they weren’t invited. Pekovic finished with 26 points and shot an impressive 9-of-10 from the field and 8-of-8 from the free-throw line. Don’t Blink Highlight of the Night The dynamic duo of J.J. Barea and Dante Cunningham hooked up with 4:45 left in the first half. It wasn’t just any pass and dunk though. It was an awesome alley-oop in traffic AND Cunningham was fouled on the play, earning him a free-throw. The play went by so fast, if you would have blinked, you would have missed it. Seriously. Thankfully they replayed it on the big screen for us. The Numbers Game
- With three made 3-pointers, Love has now made two or more 3-pointers in 19 straight games, the longest streak in the NBA this season.
- Minnesota is now 24-9 when scoring 30+ in the first quarter, including 13-3 at home.
- In what might be Steve Nash’s last trip to the Target Center, the future Hall of Famer finished with four points and six assists.
- The Wolves scored 74 points in the first half, a season high. That was three points off of the franchise record.
- Ricky Rubio finished with one steal and matched Tyrone Corbin’s team single-season record of 175 steals.
- Tonight is the fifth time this season the Wolves have scored 100 or more points through three quarters. The 111 points through the third matches the most through three quarters in an NBA game this season.
- The 143 points scored in the game is a franchise record.
Wolves vs. Lakers
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“It was kind of great, you know, to be back on the court with the guys just playing especially when you play a game like this.” - Wolves center Nikola Pekovic on his return to the court from injury. Next Up The Wolves hit the road to play the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday at 5 p.m. CST. The game will air on Fox Sports North and WCCO 830-AM.