PHILADELPHIA – Nikola Pekovic had to chuckle on the bench as fans held a pair of gigantic cutouts of his head right over him.
His Minnesota teammates were certainly amused, laughing at the trio of Pekovic heads.
“When you look at the heads, then you hold it up to close to him, they’re actually the same size,” Kevin Love said, smiling.
The T-Wolves could afford some levity after a romp on a night when the basket had to look as large as one of those oversized heads.
Love scored 16 of his 26 points in a dominant third quarter and Pekovic had 16 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 126-95 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night.
Minnesota made 16 of 26 3-pointers (62 percent) to put this one away in a hurry and moved back to .500 (17-17). Kevin Martin scored 18 points and Corey Brewer had 15 to help the Timberwolves win for the fourth time in six games.
Thaddeus Young scored 20 points for the 76ers, who entered the night having won the final four games of a six-game road trip.
Minnesota ended any threat of Philadelphia extending its streak by the second quarter. They led by 16 at the half and Love hit a pair of 3s in the third to build a 31-point lead.
The Timberwolves had seven players score in double figures.
The undersized Sixers simply had no answer for the Love and Pekovic underneath, or in Love’s case from beyond the arc. Young, named before the game the Eastern Conference player of the week, gamely tried to shut down the potent duo, with no luck.
Love and the Timberwolves turned the game into a blowout in the third. He hit his first 3 for a 24-point lead, converted a three-point play for a 25-point lead, then nailed another 3 late in the quarter to make it 96-71.
The Sixers showed why they are one of the worst 3-point defending teams in the league. Love hit four, Martin had three and the Timberwolves hit 13 of 20 through the first three quarters. That was more than enough to finish off the Sixers.
Philadelphia was riding a season-best four-game winning streak, capped by a win at Portland. Perhaps fatigued from the lengthy road trip, the Sixers were never much of a factor after the first quarter. Minnesota closed the first half on a 24-8 run, with Brewer and Love hitting game-changing 3s.
In the rout, Ricky Rubio had eight assists and Minnesota held a 53-40 rebounding edge.
Nets 91, Hawks 86
In New York, Joe Johnson snapped out of a slump with 23 points against his former team, and Brooklyn matched a season high with its third straight victory by beating Atlanta.
Mirza Teletovic scored 16 points and Alan Anderson added 14 starting in place of the injured Deron Williams as the Nets moved to 2-0 on a four-game homestand that finishes with visits from Golden State on Wednesday and Miami on Friday.
Clippers 101, Magic 81
In Los Angeles, Darren Collison scored 19 of his 21 points in the first half and had seven assists in his second start at point guard since Chris Paul’s injury, leading the Clippers to a rout of Orlando.
Bulls acquire Bynum
The Cleveland Cavaliers traded Andrew Bynum in time — and got an All-Star in return.
The Cavaliers acquired Luol Deng from the Chicago Bulls late Monday night for Bynum and three future draft picks, beating the deadline to guarantee his full contract for the season.
Along with Bynum, who had recently been suspended indefinitely by Cleveland for conduct detrimental to the team, the Cavaliers also sent the Bulls a first-round pick, two second-rounders, and gave Chicago the right to swap first-round choices in 2015 if the Cavs are not in the lottery.
Deng has been an All-Star the last two seasons. He will be a free agent after this season.
“Luol reflects all that we are striving for in building our team,” Cavs general manager Chris Grant said in a statement. “He’s a tremendous defensive player that can impact the game on both ends of the court with a team-first mentality and is a high character leader.”
Bynum signed a two-year, $24 million contract with the Cavs in July, but only $6 million of the $12.5 million he was scheduled to earn this season was guaranteed if he was wasn’t still on Cleveland’s payroll by Tuesday.
The 26-year-old Bynum averaged 8.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 24 games for Cleveland. Last season, he didn’t play due to knee problems after being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Bynum began his NBA career in 2005 with the Los Angeles Lakers.