8:00 PM ET, January 27, 2014
United Center, Chicago, IL
The Timberwolves were able to overcome the adversity.
Kevin Love scored 31 points to lead the Timberwolves over the Bulls 95-86 Monday night. Ronny Turiaf added 14 points for the Timberwolves, who snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Bulls and won for the fourth time in five games overall.
Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic exited with a sore right Achilles tendon midway through the first quarter. Turiaf, who was averaging 2.3 points, scored a season high in his absence.
"He stepped up when Pekovic went out, and he brings a lot," Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio said. "He brought everything he had."
"They had some people out too, but we knew it was going to be a physical game," Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said. "We knew how they were going to play, and I thought we responded pretty well."
Pekovic, who was averaging 18.4 points and 9.3 rebounds, said he hopes his injury is not serious. The injury has been bothering Pekovic during the team's road trip, Adelman said. Pekovic had one point and one rebound in 6 minutes.
"My goal this year, regardless of the situation, is just to go out there and have some fun," Turiaf said. "No matter how much or how little I play, I just want to have fun."
The Bulls pulled within five with 1:29 left on Augustin's 3-pointer but got no closer. Love answered with a layup with 1:10 remaining, and Corey Brewer's dunk gave the Timberwolves an 88-79 lead with 57.4 seconds left.
The Timberwolves improved to 2-11 on the road when scoring fewer than 109 points. Minnesota shot 46.6 percent compared to the Bulls' 37.6 percent.
"We need that," Love said. "We communicated really well and we definitely contested a lot of shots."
Chicago had won four of five and is 10-4 in January.
Chase Budinger added 12 points off the bench for Minnesota, and Brewer had 11.
Gibson started at center in place of Noah and had eight points and seven rebounds at halftime before running into foul trouble in the second half.
"He's an All-Star. You're going to feel it," Gibson said about the Bulls missing Noah. "He was playing real phenomenal. He's one of the vocal leaders, rebounding, playing defense, controlling the offensive end and making plays for guys.
"We got to keep pushing forward."
The Timberwolves went cold in the third quarter as the Bulls outscored them 19-18 and pulled within five.
Minnesota had one field goal in the final 7:38 of the period -- Budinger's dunk with 34.9 seconds left. The Wolves led 72-65 heading into the fourth.
The Bulls had won by an average of 13.3 points during their seven-game winning streak against the Timberwolves. Minnesota last won in Chicago on Jan. 3, 2009.
"When you lose a guy like Jo your margin for error is smaller," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said about Noah.
"We can get it done. You've got to give Minnesota credit. They're playing real well right now. We can never lose sight of how hard we have to play. We can't play hard for 32 minutes. We have to play hard the whole game."
The Timberwolves ranked second in the NBA in scoring at 106.8 points per game coming in. The Bulls were holding opponents to 92.9 points per game, second in the league. ... It was the first of two meetings between the teams this season. The Bulls lead the all-time series 28-18.
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 27: Ronny Turiaf #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves dunks against the Chicago Bulls at the...(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Around The Association
MVP: It was an off night from beyond the arc for Kevin Love, but his 31 points and eight rebounds were more than enough to keep the Bulls' depleted frontline in foul trouble throughout the game. The cherry on top: A perfect 14-for-14 showing from the stripe.
X factor: Taj Gibson, starting in place of Joakim Noah, registered a double-double but was sorely missed by the second unit. Scoring just 11 points all night, Chicago's bench never allowed them to surmount a consistent run. The Bulls scored the first points of the game but never led again.
That was ... ugly: Joakim Noah is not only Chicago's defensive anchor, he's their best playmaker. While the Bulls are well-versed in makeshift offense, a flood of early turnovers kept them out of sync and aided the Timberwolves' transition game. The result: Chicago shot 37.6 percent from the field.
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