Wizards suffer worst loss of season vs. Timberwolves

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MINNEAPOLIS -- With eight of their next 12 games at home -- and only four against teams with winning records -- the Minnesota Timberwolves were looking to start a run to turn their thus-far lackluster season around Friday night against the Washington Wizards.

Thanks in part to forward Kevin Love's NBA-leading 26th double-double, mission accomplished.

Minnesota moved within a game of the .500 mark with a 120-98 drubbing of Washington, handing the Wizards their worst loss of the season.

"I thought we played well coming out of the gate," Love said. "We've struggled in third quarters and I still thought we held the lead and managed to get up even more heading into the fourth. It was a good effort, especially after that LA trip that didn't go so well."

Love, who led Minnesota with 25 points and 11 rebounds, paced seven Wolves players in double figures, including 17 from guard JJ Barea and 13 from guard Alexey Shved off the bench. Nikola Pekovic notched his 14th double-double of the season with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while guard Ricky Rubio narrowly missed his second triple-double with 11 points, nine assists and eight boards.

Guard John Wall led Washington with 26 points, 22 of which came in the first half. Guard Bradley Beal added 14, center Nene scored 13, guard Martell Webster chipped in 11, and forwards Trevor Booker and Trevor Ariza finished in double figures with 10 apiece.

Beal left the game with 4:25 remaining in the fourth quarter after bumping knees with Minnesota forward Luc Mbah a Moute. He was carried off the floor and to the locker room by teammates Jan Vesely and Ariza.

The second-year guard, who entered the game tied with Wall for the team lead in scoring at 19.6 points per game, said afterward that X-rays came back negative and he'll have an MRI on Saturday. Beal missed nine games at the end of November through mid-December with a stress injury in his right fibula.

"I'm just going to continue trying to put weight on it and we'll see tomorrow," Beal said.

The Wolves never let the Wizards closer than a dozen in the second half. Washington twice pulled within 12 points in the third quarter, but both times Minnesota responded with six consecutive points.

"It was a sieve to the basket tonight for dribble penetration," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "That's why they shot 38 free throws. We shied away from attacking the basket. They didn't."

Washington built its biggest lead of the game at 9-0 while the Wolves missed their first six shots from the field. Minnesota shot just 28 percent from the floor in the quarter but stayed close by hitting eight of 10 free throws.

The Timberwolves used a 13-1 run to spark a season-high, 39-point second quarter and build a 14-point halftime lead despite Wall's big first half. The 39 points were the most allowed by Washington in a quarter this season.

"We really made the effort early in the game to get back," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "We didn't turn the ball over and they had to guard us all night. When you do that, it's easier to get back and slow people down."

Minnesota held a 12-0 advantage in second-chance points at halftime, and finished the game with a season-low five turnovers.

With the loss, the Wizards failed to reach .500 for what would have been just the second time this season while also missing out on their first four-game road winning streak since March 2008.

Guard Kevin Martin added 12 points and forward Corey Brewer also finished in double figures with 10, helping Minnesota avoid its second three-game losing streak of the season while winning its third consecutive home game.

NOTES: Tip-off for Minnesota's game against Phoenix on Jan. 8 was rescheduled for 9:30 p.m. ET. Originally scheduled for 8 p.m., the game was picked up as part of ESPN's Wednesday night NBA package. ... Timberwolves F Kevin Love scored at least 30 points or grabbed 10 or more rebounds in all 27 games this season -- the longest streak to start a season since Bill Walton did it in his first 34 games in 1976-77 for Portland. ... The NBA announced on Thursday that Love is fourth among Western Conference frontcourt players with 377,941 votes for the All-Star Game. Minnesota G Ricky Rubio checked in at ninth among backcourt leaders with 81,829 votes. Wizards G John Wall is fourth among Eastern Conference backcourt players with 210,988 votes. ... Wall entered Friday with 20 or more points in four consecutive games -- the longest stretch of his career. In his first game against Minnesota this season, Wall matched a career high with 16 assists.

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