Josh Howard, Alexey Shved help Wolves cruise to victory over 76ers
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PHILADELPHIA -- His team winning in a laugher, Kevin Love could afford to have some fun on the bench.
While most visiting players give a death stare to the kiss cam, Love leaned over and tried to hug it out with Lou Amundson. Love didn't quite get the affection returned. But that was OK. About everything else went the Wolves' way in their biggest victory of the season.
Josh Howard had 16 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double in more than three years to lead the Timberwolves to a 105-88 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night.
Alexey Shved hit four three-pointers and scored 17 for the Timberwolves, who raced to a 23-point lead in the first half and never looked back.
Love had six points and 10 rebounds for the Wolves on a night where he was hardly needed to turn in his usual dominant double-double performance. J.J. Barea came off the bench and finished with 11 points and 10 assists, and three other Wolves reserves also reached double figures.
The Wolves made 11 of their first 19 three-point attempts after coming in shooting a woeful 27 percent from long range this season. They shot a season-high 53 percent from the floor and scored more than 100 points for the second time this season.
"We always made a shot. We kept getting stops," coach Rick Adelman said. "That's the biggest thing."
Howard had his best game since joining the Timberwolves last month. Howard averaged 8.7 points last season in Utah, but needed a minor surgery on his left knee during the season. It's the same knee in which he tore the ACL in 2010, an injury that slowed him for nearly two seasons.
Howard said the knee is feeling good now -- and he looked great in 29 minutes against the Sixers, shooting 7 of 12 and making two three-pointers.
He hit five of his first seven shots and scored 10 points in the first quarter to help the Wolves build a quick 13-point lead. He was impressive from mid-range and showed why he has been in the starting lineup for the past three games.
Howard had his first double-double since he had one for Dallas on April 10, 2009, and made sure the Timberwolves keep a comfortable lead.
"We didn't want to give them any life," Adelman said. "For the most part, we did that."
Howard appears in shape and ready to help push the Wolves (8-8) over .500. The Timberwolves have been banged up by injuries all season with Love (illness), Malcom Lee (groin) and Andrei Kirilenko (back spasms) all missing games or practice. Ricky Rubio just returned to practice for the first season this season as he recovers from a surgically repaired left knee.
The Wolves can give Rubio all the time he wants to come back if they keep playing like this. Luke Ridnour ended a brief Sixers spurt with a three in the third. Howard hit a three to make it 80-63 and Shved followed with another for an 18-point lead. Shed made his first three three-pointers before slowing down.
"You aren't always going to play like we did tonight," Barea said. "I think we're doing a good job of staying aggressive and it's working out for us."
Evan Turner led the Sixers with 19 points.
What was left of an already sparse crowd booed the Sixers off the court after this listless performance. While the Wolves hit 3 after 3 to build a lead, the Sixers missed a whopping 15 of 20 attempts. Jason Richardson scored 14 points and Jrue Holiday had 13 points and nine assists.
"We have to fight. We have to compete," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "We're not gonna run up and down the sidelines here. That's not going to work. This team hasn't been through anything together. So I don't know who we are."
The Sixers are loaded with new players after a big offseason overhaul and Collins is still looking for a locker room leader. Richardson tried to stay positive after their second consecutive loss.
"We try to stay together, that's the main thing," Richardson said. "We were outplayed. Yes, we are a very new team, we don't know each other real well, but we have a 10-8 record."© The Associated Press