Minneapolis, MN – Nikola Pekovic dropped a game-high 25 points and pulled down a career-high 18 rebounds as the Minnesota Timberwolves posted a wire-to-wire 108-103 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday at Target Center.
Andrei Kirilenko netted 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting to go with six rebounds and five assists, while Derrick Williams added 17 points for the T'Wolves, who beat the Hawks for the first time since April 9, 2006, snapping an 11-game slide.
Alexey Shved scored 15 points and dished out seven assists and Luke Ridnour added 10 points in the victory.
"Last game we started slow, but tonight we had it going right from the beginning," Kirilenko said. "We were making shots and playing good defense and we got the lead right away. It was a great win."
Josh Smith netted 21 points and grabbed 13 boards and Louis Williams scored 21 to go with eight assists for the Hawks, who have lost four of their last five. Al Horford donated 19 points and 11 rebounds and Kyle Korver contributed 15 points in the setback.
It was a close game through the first half of the opening 12 minutes as a trey by Korver with 5:17 on the clock pulled the Hawks within 16-14, but a pair of Pekovic free throws followed by a pair of Williams treys pushed Minnesota's lead to 12 and the home side held a 30-20 lead after one quarter.
Minnesota opened the second quarter with a 14-7 surge, capped by a Williams trey, to widen the margin to 44-27 with 8:19 on the clock.
The Timberwolves led by double digits for the rest of the first half and took a comfortable 58-42 margin into the locker room at the break.
Trailing 66-52 with 8:17 to play in the third frame, Atlanta ripped off eight straight points to cut the deficit down to 66-60 with 7:18 to go in the quarter.
Kirilenko got on the end of an alley-oop pass from Shved and slammed it home on the next Timberwolves possession to push the lead to eight.
The infusion of energy on the dunk spurred the hosts on an 11-3 outburst. Shved put an exclamation point on the run with an emphatic dunk to widen the lead to 79-63 with 3:43 to go.
Horford trimmed the margin to 12 with a tip-in, but Atlanta trailed 85-71 after three quarters.
A Pekovic layup with 4:15 to play put the hosts ahead 100-89, but then the Hawks began a comeback charge.
Atlanta ripped off a 12-2 surge to cut the deficit to 102-101 with 1:07 to play. Pekovic put in a hook shot to give Minnesota a 104-101 lead, but Horford answered right back with a bank shot to make it a one-point game with 36.6 to play.
Dante Cunningham hit a deep deuce to give the T'Wolves a 106-103 edge and the Hawks had a shot to tie the game on its next possession, but Smith threw the ball away and Minnesota iced it with a pair of free throws by Ridnour.
"We waited way too long to get it going," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "In the first half we were sluggish. We didn't guard very well and they did just about anything they wanted to. We played with no urgency in that first half."
Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio handed out eight assists to go with four points in 18-plus minutes off the bench ... Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman missed the game due to personal reasons ... Prior to the game, Minnesota signed forward Lazar Hayward to a 10-day contract ...Minnesota improved to 8-0 this season when scoring 100 or more.