NBA: Kevin Love’s 31 lifts Timberwoves over Lakers

Agence France-Presse

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Minnesota's Kevin Love scored 31 points and pulled down 17 rebounds to lead the Timberwolves to a 109-99 NBA victory on Tuesday over the injury ravaged Los Angeles Lakers.

FEEL THE LOVE. Timberwolves forward Kevin Love scored 31 points and grabbed 17 rebounds to lead Minnesota past the Lakers. Photo by Michael Nelson/EPA

MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesota’s Kevin Love scored 31 points and pulled down 17 rebounds to lead the Timberwolves to a 109-99 NBA victory on Tuesday (Wednesday in the Philippines) over the injury ravaged Los Angeles Lakers.

Kevin Martin tied a season-high with 32 points for the Timberwolves, who handed the Lakers a seventh straight defeat.

The Lakers welcomed two key players back from injury in Steve Nash and Steve Blake, but saw Jodie Meeks depart with an ankle injury less than two minutes into the contest and Jordan Hill exit with a possible concussion at the end of the first quarter.

The last time the Lakers endured a seven-game losing streak was March 2-15, 2007.

Both Nash and Blake were in the Lakers’ starting lineup. Nash, sidelined since November 10 with lower back nerve pain, played 24 minutes and had seven points and nine assists.

Blake who had been sidelined since mid-December with a torn ligament in his right elbow was held scoreless in 32 minutes on the floor but had six assists and five boards.

“I thought they played well,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said of Nash and Blake, noting that Blake fought through a ruptured ear drum suffered in the first quarter.

“I just remember getting hit really hard in the ear and everything went hollow sounding,” Blake said of his latest injury.

Hill was hurt when he took an inadvertent elbow to the face from teammate Chris Kaman under the basket that left him with a neck strain and headache.

Meeks sprained his right ankle when he came down on the foot of Minnesota’s Corey Brewer.

D’Antoni said Meeks wouldn’t play again on the Lakers’ three-game road trip, which will also include games in Cleveland and Philadelphia.

More injuries were just what the Lakers didn’t need.

Prior to the game, the team announced that Spanish center Pau Gasol will be out through the All-Star break later this month as he recovers from a groin strain.

Gasol received a platelet-rich plasma injection on his groin on Monday and didn’t join the Lakers for the road trip.

The Lakers are still without superstar Kobe Bryant. He returned to action in December after 7 1/2 months recovering from Achilles tendon surgery.

But Bryant played only six games before suffering a broken bone in his left knee. Last week the Lakers said Bryant was still experiencing pain and swelling in the knee and would be reassessed in another three weeks.

Nick Young, who scored 24 points for the Lakers, said the seemingly endless stream of injuries made it seem the team had been “hexed.”

But D’Antoni said the Lakers who did play just didn’t work hard enough in the first half.

Martin and Love combined for 25 of Minnesota’s 38 first-quarter points. The Timberwolves led by as many as 25 in the second quarter and the Lakers never threatened after that.

“We did not compete in the first half,” D’Antoni said. “The second half we played much better. We’re not good enough to spot them a half.”

The Timberwolves had a scare of their own when Love went down hard with 4:10 left to play when he drove to the basket and was fouled by Robert Sacre.

Love clutched his tailbone, but after a timeout returned to the floor and made two free throws. –

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