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Timberwolves devour Hawks

Timberwolves’ Derrick Williams (with ball) drives against Atlanta Hawks’ Al Horford last night.

MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota Timberwolves coped with the absence of head coach Rick Adelman and All Star forward Kevin Love to beat Atlanta 108-103 last night at the Target Centre, ending a near seven-year winless run against the Hawks.

Timberwolves coach Adelman missed the game for personal reasons, while Love is out indefinitely after reinjuring his right hand last week, but the home team still had enough to beat the Hawks for the first time since April 2006.

Nikola Pekovic scored 25 points and had 18 rebounds, Andrei Kirilenko added 21 for Minnesota (16-15), who had lost 11 straight to the Hawks before Tuesday’s game.

Minnesota led 100-89 with four minutes remaining but Atlanta managed to cut the deficit to one in the final minute. Minnesota’s Dante Cunningham made a crucial jump shot with 15 seconds left and the Timberwolves added free throws to put the game away.

Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio returned from a four-game absence with back spasms and had eight assists in just 19 minutes of action.

Josh Smith and Louis Williams each scored 21 for the Hawks (20-13), who have lost three straight.

Atlanta fell behind early, trailing by as much as 17 in the second, but they sprang to life late in the fourth, with Kyle Korver making two straight three-pointers. Al Horford had 19 and 11 rebounds in the defeat.

In Houston, James Harden scored 31 points and Chandler Parsons added 20 to help the Houston Rockets pick up their fifth straight win with a 125-112 victory over the slumping Los Angeles Lakers.

Houston trailed by as many as 14 in the first half, but used a pair of runs in the third quarter to go on top and build a big lead.

World Peace had a season-high 24 points for the Lakers, who were playing without their top three big men: Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill – who are all out with injuries.

Bryant added 20 points for the Lakers and Nash had 16 points and 10 assists to become only the fifth player to surpass 10,000 career assists, joining John Stockton, Jason Kidd, Mark Jackson and Magic Johnson.

Other scores last night: Heat 77, Pacers 87; Nets 109, 76ers 89; Suns 99, Bucks 108.

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