MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love caught the Target Center in-game hosts off guard when he grabbed one of their microphones right before tip-off against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.
He thanked the fans in his impromptu speech for becoming the team's All-Star starter since 2007, then he spent the next three hours proving why he was worthy of the honor. Love notched his league-high 27th game recording at least 20-points and 10-rebounds, leading the Timberwolves to a 88-77 win over New Orleans.
Love finished with 30 points and 14 rebounds in 43 minutes and guided the Wolves over .500 for the first time since Nov. 23, 15 games into the season. They were 0-10 in their last 10 opportunities to crack above .500 since their 8-7 start.
Up 67-62 to start the fourth, Love made the first six points in the quarter to spark an 8-0 run. It gave Minnesota a 13-point lead, the largest of the game, and was enough to hold off the Pelicans, who remained in the contest despite shooting 35.4 percent from the floor. Forward Al-Farouq Aminu led New Orleans with 18 points.
The Wolves also finished the first half on an 8-0 run in the final 83 seconds to lead 47-35 at halftime. Love had 18 points and 10 rebounds before the break, shooting 6 of 14 from the floor. Love and guard Kevin Martin, who had 13 points at halftime, combined for 31 of the team's 47 first half points. The rest of the team shot 5-for-19.
Martin finished with 18 points.
The Pelicans tied their season low for first half points. They never held a lead in the game without Anthony Davis, who leads the team in points, rebounds and blocks, and shot 2 of 21 on three pointers.
Minnesota led the second quarter with their second unit and still maintained the lead against the Pelicans' athletic backcourt in backups Tyreke Evans and Austin Rivers, who both struggled from the floor throughout the game. They combined for 19 points on 7 of 24 shooting.
NOTES: Pelicans F Anthony Davis did not play due to a left index finger he dislocated Tuesday in a 100-89 victory over the Cavs. Davis had 30 points, seven rebounds and eight blocks before the injury. Alexis Anjinca replaced Davis in the starting lineup. Pelicans coach Monty Williams said Davis is expected to return against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. ... Wolves C Nikola Pekovic will be out indefinitely due to bursitis in his right ankle suffered Monday in a 95-86 win over the Bulls. Ronny Turiaf started in Pekovic's absence. ... Adelman said he's not concerned about restricting F Chase Budinger's minutes anymore in his return from a knee injury. He's more concerned with how Budinger runs the floor now. "I think that's something he's going to have to face all year," Adelman said. "He's still laterally not quite sure, but he did make some moves going to the basket the other night (against the Bulls)." Budinger had 12 points in 20 minutes against the Bulls on Monday.