MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Unable to find an answer for Luis Scola's versatile offensive game, the Minnesota Timberwolves did the only thing they could to combat it — they flexed their muscles and went right back at him on the other end.
Pekovic had 28 points and 11 rebounds and Kevin Love added 23 points and 18 boards to lift the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 111-107 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night.
Andrei Kirilenko added 20 points and five rebounds for the Timberwolves, who were missing guard Ricky Rubio because of back spasms. The injury left the Wolves with only three healthy guards, so Pekovic, Love and Kirilenko had to carry the night.
Scola had 33 points and 10 rebounds for the Suns, who lost their fifth straight game.
"We tried to attack him and make him have a hard time, at least on defense," Pekovic said. "Because on offense he was doing so great. It was his night."
Phoenix led 102-99 with 3:30 to play, but once again failed to close it out. Pekovic scored two quick ones underneath but the Suns still had a chance down three with 8.1 seconds left. But Dante Cunningham stole the inbounds pass to seal it.
It was a tough way to lose it for the Suns, who only committed five turnovers in the game. Shannon Brown scored 21 points and Goran Dragic added 16 points and 12 assists for Phoenix.
"It's in our head now," Scola said. "We've just got to find a way to win games somehow."
Rubio's injury left the Wolves with three healthy guards in the game, so they naturally leaned on the big guys up front to do most of the work. They scored 58 points in the paint to negate poor shooting from 3-point range (5 for 18) and at the free throw line (16 for 26).
Alexey Shved had 12 points and 10 assists for the Wolves, including two clutch free throws that gave Minnesota a three-point lead with 55 seconds to play.
The Suns were equally tough at the rim in a game that occasionally resembled pregame layup lines with the ease with which both teams got to the basket. They scored 54 points in the paint, using superb ball movement to get the Wolves out of their defensive rotations.
Dragic played with a sore hip that kept him out of the previous, but he didn't look any worse for wear on Saturday night. He ran the pick-and-roll and jumpstarted the Suns break with impressive efficiency. The Suns (11-20) didn't turn the ball over until 7:37 was left in the first half.