A hot start to the night could not keep the Minnesota Timerwolves ahead as they lost to the Washington Wizards 104-100.
Minnesota started energetically. A 13-2 first-quarter run put the Wolves up by 10, and Kevin Love had 16 points by the end of the quarter to put the Wolves up 34-27.
Love looked as if he was headed for his usual big night against Washington. But the Wizards turned up their defense and held the NBA’s third-leading scorer below his season average, he entered the game averaging 26.8 points, but had 16 in the first quarter and only nine afterward.
“I thought he was going for 70 in the first eight minutes,” Wizards Coach Randy Wittman said.
Love, who made five of his first six shots, missed eight of his final 11 to finish with 25. He also had 11 rebounds, which is below his season average.
Bradley Beal scored 25 points, while John Wall added 14 points and tied his career high with 16 assists for Washington.
Martell Webster’s three-pointer with 42 seconds to play gave the Wizards a 100-98 lead. Beal added two free throws with 12.9 seconds left to make it 102-98.
Webster, a former Timberwolf, had 17 points, including five three-pointers.
Beal scored 17 in the second half, and his layup with 10:24 to play gave the Wizards an 86-85 lead. They held it until Martin’s two free throws tied it at 95 with 2:23 to play.
“In the first half, we were horrible. We weren’t there defensively. We were lackadaisical. We played with no energy,” Beal said.
Wall hit a jumper with 1:26 to play to give Washington a 97-95 lead, but Martin, who had missed 12 of his first 15 field-goal attempts, made a three-pointer and Minnesota pulled ahead 98-97 with 1:11 remaining.
Love played half the second quarter, missed his only shot, and had just one point, but Minnesota led 63-51 at the half.
“I thought when we came out to start the game, it was again lethargic. We weren’t dictating things defensively. We got upset at halftime and turned it on,” Wittman said.
Aside from being able to hold Love down, Washington also stopped Kevin Martin, who was averaging 24.4 points so far this season– he was held to only 11.
“We need everybody every night. We can’t usually get by if we have a couple guys with off games,” Timberwolves Coach Rick Adelman said.
With this game against the Wizards, Minnesota began a difficult stretch of five games in seven nights, its second of the season.
“Our transition D was poor,” Love said. “That’s the only way they scored the ball, really. I thought we did a good job in the half court, but everyone knows, when that team gets out in transition they can be pretty good offensively.”
In the second half, the Timberwolves shot just 34 percent and missed 10 of their 13 three-point attempts.
“If you’re going to be somebody in the league, you have to be ready to win every night. I think we didn’t do it tonight in the second half and this kind of game is one of the games that you’re going to need,” Wolves guard Ricky Rubio said.
Rubio had three quick fouls in just seven first-half minutes and played just 19 minutes.
Up next for the Timberwovles are the Los Angeles Clippers at the Target Center at 7:00 PM CST. You can watch the Wolves at Fox Sports North or listen at WCCO 830 AM.