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 on Tuesday that left 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 last year because of nerve problems in his back. The soon-to-be-40-year-old two-time NBA Most Valuable Player 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 last year. 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.
BULLS 101, SUNS 92
In Phoenix, Arizona, Carlos Boozer had 19 points and 12 rebounds as the Bulls snapped the Suns’ five-game winning streak.
The Bulls shot 45 percent from the field and had five players score in double figures, bouncing back from an ugly 99-70 loss at Sacramento on Monday.
The Bulls shot 28 percent and were out-rebounded 53-30 against the Kings. One night later, it was a completely different story.
Jimmy Butler and D.J. Augustin had 18 points apiece for the Bulls, who won for the fifth straight time in Phoenix.
Joakim Noah, who was ejected in the third quarter of the loss at Sacramento, had 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Goran Dragic led Phoenix with 24 points. Channing Frye had 18.
PACERS 89, HAWKS 85
In Atlanta, Georgia, David West scored 22 points and Paul George added 18, helping NBA-leading Indiana get the win.
The Pacers snapped a 12-game regular-season losing streak in Atlanta, while improving the NBA’s best record to 38-10.
Atlanta failed to place a starter in double figures. They had won two straight and five of seven.
Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver had nine points apiece for the Hawks, but All-Star forward Paul Millsap went two for 11 from the field and finished with seven points.
Teague made a three-pointer to give Atlanta a 41-35 lead with 1 minute, 6 seconds left in the second quarter, but the Hawks were outscored 38-16 in the next 17 minutes.
Cartier Martin’s three-pointer cut Indiana’s lead to 86-84 with 14.9 seconds left. C.J. Watson and Danny Granger then combined for three free throws to help the Pacers hold on for the win.
BOBCATS 91, WARRIORS 75
In Oakland, California, Al Jefferson had 30 points and 13 rebounds, while Gerald Henderson added 17 points and eight rebounds for Charlotte in Kemba Walker’s much-anticipated return.
Walker finished with seven points, seven assists and six rebounds after missing the previous seven games with a sprained left ankle. He played 33 minutes.
The Bobcats went ahead by 18 points late in the third quarter and 22 midway through the fourth.