MINNEAPOLIS — Kevin Love had 23 points and 12 rebounds, and Nikola Pekovic added 20 points and 12 boards Saturday night to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 106-88 victory against the Boston Celtics.
Kevin Martin scored 20 on 6-of-18 shooting and reserve Dante Cunningham scored 12 to help Minnesota rebound from a tough loss in Denver the previous night.
Avery Bradley scored 27 points, and Vitor Faverani had nine points and 14 rebounds for the Celtics. But Jeff Green went 0 of 6 from the floor and Boston’s 22 turnovers led to 28 points for the Timberwolves.
The Celtics have lost three straight following a four-game winning streak.
J.J. Barea scored 13 points and Pekovic started throwing his considerable weight around the way he did last season to earn a five-year extension this summer. He’s had difficulty early this season finding his place in the offense with Love and Martin taking the bulk of the shots with the starting unit.
But against Boston’s smaller frontcourt, Pekovic had his way. He scored 10 points in the third quarter to help the Wolves turn a close game into a comfortable margin, and Martin and Love took over from there.
Playing their fifth game in seven nights, the Timberwolves were a little sluggish in the first half against a Celtics team that has been surprisingly competitive early this season after trading Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn, and sending Coach Doc Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Brad Stevens’ team started 0-4 but beat Miami during a four-game winning streak to even its record. As the competition has stiffened with Western Conference playoff hopefuls Portland and Minnesota in the last two nights, the Celtics’ talent gap has looked more glaring.
The Timberwolves led by as many as 17 points midway through the second quarter but the Celtics closed the half on a 20-8 run to keep it close.
Faverani hit two 3s to start the comeback.
Brandon Bass scored 15 points for the Celtics. After scoring a career-high 26 points against the Blazers on Friday night, Jared Sullinger had three points in 14 minutes.