MINNEAPOLIS — Kevin Love had 25 points and 17 rebounds and hit two huge 3s in the fourth quarter to help the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Dallas Mavericks 99-82 on Sunday night, ending an 18-game losing streak dating deep into last season.
The young Wolves closed the game with a 15-0 run and this win has been a long time coming. They lost the last 15 games of last season and the first three of this year, meaning it's been 295 days since the franchise's last victory.
Ricky Rubio added 14 points and seven assists and Luke Ridnour scored 11 for the Timberwolves (1-3), who were winners for the first time under new coach Rick Adelman.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points, but the defending champions have looked slow and sloppy in starting the season 1-4.
The Mavericks turned the ball over 17 times and Jason Terry, Jason Kidd and Lamar Odom combined to shoot 7 for 23.
Minnesota lost its first three games of this season by a combined nine points, including nail-biters at home to heavyweights Oklahoma City and Miami. This one looked to be another tight game as well when Nowitzki scored seven straight points during a 10-0 run to make it 84-82 with just over five minutes to play.
But Love hit two straight 3s, including a step-back over Kidd, and Rubio assisted on three straight buckets during an end-of-the-game surge.
Delonte West was the only other Mavericks starter in double figures with 13 points.
With the Wolves offense stagnant, Rubio scored 12 of the team's 15 points during a critical five minute stretch bridging the third and fourth quarters. The Spanish kid who supposedly can't shoot drilled two 3s and scored on a pair of pretty drives, the last giving them an 82-72 lead with nine minutes to play.
The defending champs started the season 0-3 and just picked up their first win against Toronto on Friday. After calling their first two games of the season "horrible," coach Rick Carlisle said he saw signs of progress in the last two games.
The team has been slow to come together after losing two of their most vocal and emotional leaders from last year's championship run — Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea. Chandler teamed up with Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony in New York, while Barea left one of the most successful franchises in the league for one of the worst.
The little guy scored eight points for the Wolves after missing the last game with a strained right hamstring, squeezing through slivers in the Dallas defense to create open shots for teammates.
Replacements Vince Carter, Odom and West are still finding their comfort zone in Dallas and the Mavericks simply haven't looked like the same tenacious, efficient, balanced team that they were when they upset the Heat in the Finals last season.
With a rematch against Oklahoma City looming on Monday, the Mavericks slogged through the first half against Minnesota. They committed 10 turnovers and shot just 36 percent from the field to fall behind 50-41 at halftime.
NOTES: Anthony Tolliver had 13 points and six rebounds and played solid defense for the Wolves. ... Terry finished with 10 points. ... Timberwolves C Nikola Pekovic was available for the first time this season after being bothered by a strained right groin. He did not play.