MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—For the first time all season, Al Jefferson(notes) got to take a seat on the bench late in the fourth quarter and watch his Minnesota Timberwolves teammates finish off a rout. He definitely enjoyed the view.
“It’s good and relaxing,” Jefferson said. “I just smiled and had a good time.”
Kevin Love(notes) had a career-high 25 points to go with 11 rebounds and the Timberwolves exacted a little payback on the New York Knicks with a 112-91 victory Sunday night that was easily their most lopsided of this long season.
Ryan Hollins(notes) had 16 points and three blocks in his second straight strong game since being inserted into the starting lineup for the Timberwolves (11-38), who lost by 27 points at Madison Square Garden last week.
One night after playing all 48 minutes in a loss at Washington, Jared Jeffries(notes) had 14 points and six rebounds for the Knicks, who have lost three in a row. They were hammered on the boards again in Minnesota, getting outrebounded 58-36 after a 59-40 deficit against the Wizards on Saturday.
“We’re definitely frustrated, because you look back on these games, look back on things that you can correct as a player to help you get where you want to go,” Jeffries said. “But it’s still a long season and we’ve got the All-Star break coming up. We’ve got guys with small injuries and hopefully we can get everybody healthy, but we’ve got a couple games before then so we’ll try to make up some ground.”
Jefferson added 22 points and 11 rebounds and the Wolves held a 51-8 advantage in bench scoring. Much of that was thanks to Love, who was moved to the bench two games ago in an effort to get more balance between the first and second units.
Hollins was a beneficiary of the decision, getting inserted into the starting lineup against the Clippers on Friday night. He tied a career high with 19 points in that victory and his energy has proved infectious for a team that had lost 16 of 18 before coach Kurt Rambis made the move.
“His length gave us some trouble in the first half,” Knicks forward David Lee(notes) said. “Then they come off the bench with Kevin Love, who would be a starter on two-thirds of the teams, could easily be one on this team and has been. So they’ve got three really good post players.”
Minnesota led by three points at halftime, but used a 13-2 run at the end of the third period and a 13-3 burst to start the fourth to pull away.
The last time these teams met, the Knicks used the reeling Timberwolves as a punching bag, taking their frustrations out after an embarrassing 50-point loss to the Mavericks in the previous game. The Knicks led 15-0 before the Timberwolves even blinked and 40-12 after the first quarter to cruise to a 132-105 victory.
This time, the Wolves caught the Knicks on the second night of a tough back-to-back—more because of geography than the strength of the opponents— that started in Washington on Saturday night.
New York came out firing early again and led 22-7 on Lee’s layup midway through the first quarter, but couldn’t sustain that energy.
“They care. They’re trying,” said coach Mike D’Antoni, whose Knicks played their second straight game without Al Harrington(notes) (knee). “No excuses, but a little short-handed. Playing 8 o’clock last night, flying here and playing 6 o’clock doesn’t help. We’ve had a tough schedule last weekend and this weekend and the guys are showing a little bit of it.”
Minnesota closed the first on a 13-2 run and had an 8-0 spurt in the second period to take a 49-46 lead at halftime.
Jefferson scored only four points in that drubbing in New York, but responded with his 10th double-double of the month and 24th this season. He scored six of the first nine points for the Wolves in the fourth quarter, the last on a hook shot over Lee that gave Minnesota a 16-point lead.
“Tonight was a tougher game. We had to play through some tough stretches,” Hollins said. “We stuck with it and I think that shows some growth in us as a team.”
NOTES: Jeffries’ three 3-pointers were his most since the second game of the season when he made three at Charlotte. He has scored in double figures in back-to-back games for the first time since March 2009. … Jefferson has at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in seven games this month.