Love, Pekovic lead Wolves over Rockets

Published 6:57 pm Saturday, February 18, 2012

HOUSTON — Kevin Love gave Rockets fans another reason to dislike him Friday night.

The All-Star forward scored 33 points, including eight straight during a key fourth-quarter stretch, to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 111-98 victory over Houston.

Love was already unpopular in Houston after stepping on Luis Scola’s face and chest after knocking him to the ground while driving to the basket in a Minnesota win on Feb. 4. He was suspended for two games but has scored at least 30 points in four of five since.

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“Hopefully, they’ll move past the stomp, know that I’ve learned from it and just start remembering me as a good player who beat them up in the fourth quarter,” Love said about Rockets fans.

Nikola Pekovic added a career-high 30 points and had 12 rebounds to help the Timberwolves improve to 3-1 against Houston this season.

“We thought we had a big advantage before the game with Love and Pek inside,” Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said. “A lot of people haven’t paid attention to Pek, but he’s been doing this to everybody.”

A big run by Houston at the beginning of the fourth cut Minnesota’s lead from 14 to one before Love took over. He scored eight points in a row, fueled by a pair of 3-pointers, to push Minnesota’s lead to 103-94 with 3 minutes left. The Rockets never threatened again.

“I’m happy we won the season series and we’re happy to be done with Houston,” Love said.

Love also had 17 rebounds for his 27th double-double of the season, most in the NBA.

“They just beat us up, bottom line,” Houston coach Kevin McHale said.

Houston got 18 points from Chandler Parsons and 17 each from Kyle Lowry and Courtney Lee, who tied a season best.

Adelman said before the game he didn’t think there would be any carry-over and he was right — when it came to the players. The fans were a different story, with the crowd booing Love loudly during introductions and sporadically throughout the game.

When he was called for an offensive foul that knocked Scola to the ground in the third quarter, the crowd seemed confused, with some booing while others cheered.