MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kevin Love wasn’t going to allow the Charlotte Bobcats to break their long and miserable losing streak on his watch.
Love had 30 points and 18 rebounds to help the Minnesota Timberwolves hand the Bobcats their 16th loss in a row, 102-90 on Wednesday night.
Nikola Pekovic added 21 points and 11 rebounds, and the Timberwolves snapped a four-game skid of their own.
Kemba Walker had 21 points and six rebounds and Corey Maggette scored 18 points for the Bobcats, who have lost 22 of the last 23 games. D.J. Augustin played for the first time in 12 games, but his return wasn’t enough to lift Charlotte out of the worst losing streak in franchise history.
Augustin had nine points and four turnovers in 24 minutes.
The Bobcats were feisty for the first three quarters, leading by nine points early, by two at halftime and keeping it tied at 66 with 3 minutes to go in the third. But the Wolves closed the third on a 10-0 run, with Martell Webster hitting a floater off the glass and scoring on a fast break to help them take control.
The Bobcats wilted in the fourth, with the Wolves opening on a 13-4 run to put it away. Luke Ridnour, who has struggled mightily with his shot the last four games, scored six points in the surge, and J.J. Barea hit a deep 3 for an 89-70 lead.
The Bobcats haven’t won since Jan. 14 against Golden State, a miserable stretch in which the team has been beset by injuries to key players. Augustin came off the bench in his return from an 11-game absence because of an inflamed right toe and Maggette played in his fourth game since missing time with a strained left hamstring.
Gerald Henderson is out with a strained right hamstring, so coach Paul Silas hasn’t had his complete roster available for almost the entire season.
The Timberwolves have struggled with slow starts for most of the season, especially at home. Another one Wednesday night helped the Bobcats race out to a 15-6 lead and get some much-needed confidence.
As crazy as it sounds, the Wolves were nearly as desperate for a victory as Charlotte. After winning five of seven to creep into the playoff conversation in the West, the Wolves had dropped four straight, with a brutal stretch of games coming up that includes Houston, Philadelphia, Denver, Utah and a trip out west to face the Clippers and Lakers.
To illustrate, the Wolves were up 18 with 4 minutes to play and Love, who leads the league in minutes and could use a little rest, didn’t sit until there was under 2 minutes to go.
Barea had 12 points and eight assists and Ridnour scored 10 points for the Wolves.
NOTES: Love said before the game that the aquarium at the Mall of America plans to name an octopus after him. Can’t see the resemblance? Both have very strong grippers, of course. ... Bobcats coach Paul Silas and Wolves assistant Jack Sikma were teammates in Seattle from 1977-80. “I made him tough,” Silas said, smiling.