Minneapolis, MN – Nikola Pekovic netted a game-high 29 points and was a perfect 11-of-11 from the charity stripe as Minnesota ended a 11- game losing skid versus Boston by downing the Celtics, 110-100, on Monday at Target Center.
Pekovic was listed as questionable prior to the contest after missing Saturday's game versus Memphis with a sprained ankle, but returned to give Minnesota a much-needed spark. He also grabbed five rebounds for the Timberwolves, who have won two of three.
"We had no one that could deal with that big monster they had down there," Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said of Pekovic.
Dante Cunningham poured in 19 points and Andrei Kirilenko had 17 to go along with nine boards and five assists in the victory.
Avery Bradley scored 19 points and Jason Terry and Terrence Williams each had 14 for the Celtics, who have dropped two straight and seven of their last nine.
Boston, which was without Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce due to injury, struggled in the paint all game long. The Timberwolves outscored the visitors convincingly, 62-38 down low and continued to pound the ball versus the helpless Celtics big men.
The Wolves also defeated Boston for the first time since 2007 and since Garnett was traded.
Early in the fourth, Minnesota finally created some space. Cunningham's slam followed by an Alexey Shved triple, all but secured the victory and made it 96-82 with just 7:46 to play. The Celtics got as close eight with 35 seconds remaining, though, the contest had already been decided.
Kirilenko had a nice steal-and-slam around the midway point of the third to increase the edge to 12 points, though the Celtics did close the period on a 12-4 flurry as Terry capped the run with the team's final three points to make it 84-78 to head into the fourth.
It was toe-to-toe contest in the second until Minnesota broke a 45-45 tie with 3:19 left to close the first half on a 12-7 run to lead at the break, 57-52.
Minnesota led after one quarter 27-25, though Pekovic made his presence felt as he supplied 15 points after 12 minutes.
"They really didn't have an answer for (Pekovic). Pek got us going at the start of the game and carried right on through," Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said.
Ricky Rubio had nine points and 10 assists for Minnesota ... Jeff Green had 10 points and seven boards for Boston ... The Celtics had 17 turnovers which resulted in 22 points for Minnesota.