Minnesota led by as many as 19 points in the second quarter, but the MEMPHIS Grizzlies kept clawing and clawing. They drew as close as two points in the fourth quarter and were within three as late as the 2:26 mark when MEMPHIS power forward Zach Randolph made a finger-roll layup. But that's where the comeback ended.
"We got a couple of stops and got out of here," Love said.
The Timberwolves broke their 11-game losing streak to the Grizzlies, and an eight-game losing streak in MEMPHIS with a 101-93 victory Sunday night at the FedExForum. The Timberwolves last beat the Grizzlies in February of 2010 in Minnesota. The last win in MEMPHIS came in January of 2009.
"Last time was the first two months of my career, that's wild."
Much worse for the Grizzlies (10-13), point guard Mike Conley limped off the court with just under four minutes left in the fourth quarter. Conley scored a team-high 28 points on 12-for-20 shooting from the floor, including 4-for-8 from 3-point range. MEMPHIS is already without All-Star center Marc Gasol (left MCL sprain).
"It was frustrating," Conley said. "I felt like I had it going and I let my team down."
The Grizzlies have been plagued by injuries throughout the season. Shooting guard Tony Allen just returned to the lineup and Gasol is expected to be out for at least several more weeks. Swingman Quincy Pondexter already has been lost for the season.
"Things have been our way for the last four years -- we were one of the least-injured teams," MEMPHIS coach Dave Joerger said. "We've had some wonderful non-injury times. ... It seems like it's our turn to catch that bug."
MEMPHIS was down just two at 81-79 with 9:24 to play when backup point guard Nick Calathes tried to force a driving layup. Minnesota forward Dante Cunningham blocked it. On the other end, Timberwolves guard Alexey Shved went in for a layup. MEMPHIS center Kosta Koufos was called for goaltending and forward Ed Davis was called for a flagrant-1 foul at the 9:19 mark. Shved made two free throws, Minnesota got the ball back and then Davis fouled center Nikola Pekovic at the 9:06 mark and he made two free throws.
Love got plenty of support from his teammates as Pekovic scored 19 points, guard Jose Barea scored 15 with five assists off the bench, point guard Ricky Rubio finished with 12 points and forward Corey Brewer contributed nine points and 12 rebounds.
Love missed all three games with MEMPHIS last season due to hand surgery. He didn't waste time going to work Sunday, scoring 19 first-half points on 7-for-12 shooting from the floor, 3-for-5 from behind the arc.
Joerger said all the normal principles for guarding a power forward don't apply with Love.
"(Randolph's) natural instinct as a big is to lean in and try to help, or block a shot or whatever," Joerger said. "We've been doing that since we were eight years old. Well, Kevin Love is the opposite. He doesn't need much room to get going."
NOTES: The Timberwolves began the night with the worst opponents' field-goal percentage in the NBA at .477. In Friday's loss to the Spurs in San Antonio, they gave up 62 points in the paint. "We're not really challenging people," Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said. "Our rim protection is not there right now." ... Timberwolves PF Kevin Love posted a season-high 42 points, hitting 15 of 27 shots from the floor and a franchise-record-tying eight 3-pointers in nine attempts in the loss to the Spurs. Over his previous three games before Sunday, Love averaged 31.3 points, 15.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists and 4.3 3-pointers. ... In Grizzlies F Jon Leuer's previous six games, all off the bench, he averaged 16.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in 28.2 minutes. His numbers through the first 81 games of his career: 3.6 points and 2.1 rebounds in 10.1 minutes.