MINNEAPOLIS – Kevin Love had 33 points and 11 rebounds and Luke Ridnour added 25 points and nine assists to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 99-86 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Monday night.
Wayne Ellington scored 15 points off the bench for Minnesota, a significant contribution for a backcourt that was missing J.J. Barea for the third straight game because of a sprained left ankle.
Tyreke Evans had nine points, 10 assists and eight rebounds but shot just 3 of 11 from the field as the Kings lost for the fifth time in six games.
Ricky Rubio had nine points, eight assists and eight rebounds for Minnesota. Love has scored 97 points over the last three games, with a Jan. 25 deadline to extend his contract getting closer and closer.
Rubio has received most of the attention and headlines this season, and rightfully so. His flashy, no-look passes and dynamic play in the open court have electrified a dormant franchise and put more fans in the seats at Target Center than at any time in recent memory.
Through it all, Ridnour has been the understated motor that just keeps plugging along. He got the Wolves off to a good start with 10 points, three assists and two rebounds in the first quarter and even blocked a shot to set a tone as Minnesota took a 28-22 lead.
Ridnour has been moved from the point to off guard to make room for Rubio in the starting lineup, and he has blossomed in the role despite being undersized.
One game after scoring just 60 points and getting blown out by 39 in a loss to Dallas, the Kings could have checked out again in the final game of a five-game road trip. But Sacramento's ailing defense held Minnesota to 14 points in the second quarter, and the bench thoroughly outplayed the Timberwolves' reserves to close the half on a 16-4 run.
Ridnour hit two 3-pointers and assisted on Love's dunk in the final 3 minutes to help the Wolves put the game away.
The Wolves blew an 18-point lead at Atlanta on Saturday night, so an eight-point advantage to start the fourth quarter was anything but safe. Thompson's dunk cut Minnesota's lead to 72-71 just over 3 minutes into the period.
Ellington responded with two 3s, the last giving the Wolves an 82-76 lead that helped them start to pull away.
NOTES: Wolves swingman Martell Webster, who has not played this season after having back surgery, was cleared for contact on Monday and will practice on Tuesday. There is still no timetable for his return. C Brad Miller, still recovering from microfracture knee surgery, is returning to practice as well. ... Wolves F Michael Beasley missed his sixth straight game with a sprained right foot. ... NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver attended the game.