By Jon Krawczynski
AP Basketball Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kevin Love had 25 points and 11 rebounds, and J.J. Barea scored 17 points off the bench to help the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Washington Wizards 120-98 on Friday night.
Ricky Rubio had 11 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in 26 minutes, and Nikola Pekovic added 18 points and 10 boards for the Timberwolves. Minnesota outrebounded Washington 44-35 and only turned the ball over five times.
John Wall had 26 points and seven assists for the Wizards, who missed a chance to win their fourth straight road game for the first time since March 2008. Nene added 13 points and five rebounds, but Bradley Beal had to be helped off the floor in the fourth quarter with a left leg injury.
Beal scored 14 points in 26 minutes, but got tangled up on a screen by Wolves forward Luc Mbah a Moute with 4:25 to go. Beal was knocked to the ground and couldn’t put any pressure on his left leg as Jan Vesely and Trevor Ariza helped him to the locker room.
Beal missed nine games this season with a stress fracture in his right leg, and the Wizards count on his scoring as part of their dynamic young backcourt.
Barea shot 8 of 10 and Alexey Shved scored 13 points and grabbed five rebounds to give the Wolves some much-needed balance between their starters and bench.
The Timberwolves slogged through a brutal opening two months, weathering injuries to Chase Budinger and Ronny Turiaf and the third-toughest schedule in the NBA to post a 13-15 record. It was underwhelming considering the high hopes they started the season with, but not wholly unexpected given the schedule.
Now is the time they have to make a move if they want to be a factor in the Western Conference playoff race. They play six of the next eight at home and face five teams that are currently under .500.
The Wolves got off to an awful start Friday, shooting 28 percent in the first quarter. But they got to the free throw line 10 times to stay close, then made their move in the second quarter with 39 points.
The Wizards, meanwhile, were looking to end a four-game road swing with a statement. They beat the Knicks, Nets and Celtics to start the trip, then had five days off before facing the Timberwolves, and coach Randy Wittman wanted to see his young team build on the steps he believed they took in those victories.
Wall scored 22 points in the first half, but just four in the second as the Wizards faded.
NOTES: Former Timberwolves F Martell Webster scored 11 points for the Wizards. ... Wizards F Kevin Seraphin missed the game with a sore right knee. ... The Timberwolves’ game against Phoenix on Jan. 8 has been moved to an 8:30 p.m. CST start to accommodate ESPN.