Love leads Timberwolves past Bobcats, 88-83

STEVE REED AP Sports Writer Published:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Kevin Love had 40 points and 19 rebounds to lift the Minnesota Timberwolves past the Charlotte Bobcats, 88-83 on Wednesday night.

Love scored 14 points in the fourth quarter and the Timberwolves (25-27) led the entire second half to win a game they had to have.

Love entered the game averaging 30.6 points in March. He has scored at least 20 points in 14 of 15 games and has nine straight double-doubles.

Luke Ridnour had a season-high 14 assists and added 15 points for Minnesota, fighting to get into playoff contention in the Western Conference.

Corey Maggette had 22 points, and Kemba Walker added 20 for the Bobcats (7-41), who lost their fifth straight and remain the only NBA team with fewer than 10 wins this season.

The Timberwolves led 68-65 entering the fourth quarter and Love hit back-to-back 3-pointers to quickly push the lead to nine. A short while later, he faked a low post move to the middle and spun past Byron Mullens for an easy basket.

Love scored 11 of Minnesota's first 13 points in the fourth quarter.

Before the game, Bobcats coach Paul Silas said Love is playing some of the best ball in the league.

"In my mind he should be considered an MVP candidate," Silas said. "But in most people's minds if you don't win, and win big, you're not considered an MVP candidate. But in my mind he certainly should be. I don't know if anyone is more deserving of being in that club than him. He doesn't have a great team that he's on and he's leading this ball club. I think he has to be considered."

Love showed why once again.

Love, turning into the NBA's ironman, played 43 minutes and converted 14 of 31 field goals, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range.

The Bobcats trailed by nine late in the first quarter, but closed the half with a 20-9 run to take a 47-45 lead into the locker room after getting a big lift off the bench from rookie Kemba Walker and veteran Eduardo Najera.

The Bobcats held Love without a point during that span.

But there was no stopping Love in the second half as he scored 26 points.

NOTES: Charlotte's backups outscored its starters the last two games -- getting 59 points against the Boston Celtics and 49 against the New Jersey Nets -- but only got 26 against the Timberwolves.