MINNEAPOLIS — Kevin Love had 31 points and 17 rebounds for Minnesota, spoiling Steve Nash’s return for languishing Los Angeles and leading the Timberwolves to a 109-99 victory Tuesday night that stuck the Lakers with their seventh straight defeat.
Kevin Martin scored 14 of his season-high-tying 32 points in the opening 10 minutes to help the Timberwolves start strong, and the NBA’s highest-scoring first-quarter team surged to a 25-point lead midway through the second period.
Nash had been sidelined since Nov. 10 because of nerve problems in his back. The soon-to-be-40-year-old two-time league MVP had seven points and nine assists in 25 minutes, about 10 more than he was supposed to play.
Steve Blake also returned, coming back from a torn ligament in his right elbow that had shelved him since Dec. 10. He ruptured his eardrum during the game but kept playing on another night of bad luck and bad defense for the fallen franchise. Blake was scoreless in 31 minutes.
Jodie Meeks (sprained right ankle, first quarter) and backup Jordan Hill (headache and neck strain, first quarter) went down for the Lakers, who have been without star Kobe Bryant for most of the season. Pau Gasol sat out with a strained right groin and could be out until after the All-Star break.
The Lakers’ reserves had a whopping 70 points, with Nick Young (24 points), Manny Harris (17 points) and former Timberwolves first-round draft pick Wes Johnson (15 points and nine rebounds) leading the way. But the Lakers still lost for the 19th time in their last 22 games and fell into a tie for last place in the Western Conference with Utah and Sacramento.
Also on Tuesday:
Pacers 89, Hawks 85: ATLANTA — David West scored 22 points and Paul George added 18 for NBA-leading Indiana.
Bulls 101, Suns 92: PHOENIX — Carlos Boozer had 19 points and 12 rebounds to lead Chicago.
Bobcats 91, Warriors 75: OAKLAND, Calif. — Al Jefferson had 30 points and 13 rebounds and Gerald Henderson added 17 points and eight rebounds for Charlotte.