Too little, too late, but Love's triple-double lifts Wolves over Grizz
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Kevin Love had 24 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists for his third career triple-double and the Minnesota Timberwolves dealt the Memphis Grizzlies a loss they could ill afford in a 102-88 victory on Wednesday night.
Ricky Rubio had 14 points, seven assists and three steals and Kevin Martin scored 21 points for the Timberwolves, who are trying to play spoiler down the stretch of what has been a disappointing season.
Marc Gasol had 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists for the Grizzlies. But Zach Randolph had just four points on 1-for-8 shooting and Memphis dropped a game that coach Dave Joerger called a must-win before tipoff.
The Grizzlies (44-31) entered in seventh place in the jam-packed Western Conference, but with Phoenix (44-30) and Dallas (44-31) all in the mix for the last two spots.
The Grizzlies were a tired bunch when they walked into Target Center on Wednesday night for the final game of a five-game road trip. They went 2-2 in the first four games and had little margin for error in the crowded West. With bags under their eyes and heavy legs, the Grizzlies couldn't keep up with a Wolves offense that averaged over 110 points per game in March.
The Wolves led by seven at halftime, and Rubio attacked Memphis right out of the second-half gates. He had six points, a steal and an assist in the first 4 minutes and kept the pressure coming. He drew three fouls on Mike Conley to force him to the bench midway through the period, hit a 3-pointer and fired a 50-foot outlet pass to Kevin Martin for a layup during a flurry that helped build an 18-point lead.
Rubio left the game briefly with a sprained left ankle, but the damage was already done. A 12-2 run in the fourth pushed Minnesota's lead to 100-80 with 3 minutes to go.
Randolph, Conley and Tayshaun Prince combined to shot 7 for 32 and the Grizzlies gave in to a team that appeared to have given up on this season after falling out of contention in the hyper competitive West. Randolph finished with single digits in scoring for just the fourth time this season and first since Jan. 15.
The Grizzlies now go home to face the Nuggets before going to San Antonio and hosting Miami in a tough three-game stretch. The Suns get the Clippers, Trail Blazers and Thunder this week while the Mavericks start a four-game road trip.
Wolves C Gorgui Dieng had eight points and nine rebounds and received a big ovation before the game when it was announced that he was named Western Conference rookie of the month. ... Memphis F Jon Leuer, a Minnesota native, finished with four points in 3 minutes. ... The Grizzlies only turned the ball over 11 times, but it led to 19 points for Minnesota.© The Associated Press