MILWAUKEE -- The question was consistency.
Could the Wolves follow up a one-sided victory with a well-played game on the road? Too often this year, the team had followed up on an exhilarating victory with a listless effort. And that's why the issue was atop coach Rick Adelman's mind before Saturday's game at Milwaukee.
"We've been up and down all year long," he said. "Good game, then we've reverted back. We have to be consistent."
And they were. For three quarters, anyway.
In a 117-95 victory over the hapless Bucks, the Wolves scored 30 or more points in each of the first three quarters, including a 39-21 third-quarter explosion that gave Minnesota a 103-76 cushion entering the fourth.
And they needed much of that. The Wolves reserves opened the fourth shooting 1-for-14, forcing Adelman to reinsert the starters to try to stop a Bucks rally that brought them within 14 points.
But despite scoring only 14 fourth-quarter points, the Wolves (15-15) ended a three-game road losing streak and returned to .500 for the season.
Leading the way, again, was Kevin Love, who finished with 33 points and 15 rebounds, giving him 25 or more points in a league-best 10 consecutive games and his sixth game with at least 30 points and 15 rebounds.
He wasn't alone. Kevin Martin scored 20 points. Center Nikola Pekovic, taking advantage of John Henson being out because of an ankle injury, had 19 points and 11 rebounds.
That was enough to beat a Bucks team that shot the ball well but didn't defend much of the night. Especially in the third quarter.
The Wolves were up by nine when it began. Only 4 minutes, 34 seconds into the quarter, that lead was up to 78-55 thanks to a 14-0 run that included five points from Pekovic and four from Love.
And the Wolves really never slowed down. Love had 15 points in the third quarter, Martin nine, Pekovic seven and Corey Brewer six as that lead ballooned to 31 points.
It was such a big lead that even that icy start to the fourth quarter wasn't enough to derail this effort. Khris Middleton led the Bucks with 31 points. O.J. Mayo had 19 and Brandon Knight had 18.
The Bucks came out hot, exploiting the paint and building a 24-21 first-quarter lead before the Wolves went on a run.
Brewer had four points, Alexey Shved a three-pointer and Dante Cunningham two in a 9-0 run that gave the Wolves a six-point lead that stood for the rest of the quarter despite 59.1 percent shooting by the Bucks.
The Wolves pushed that lead to 14 in the second quarter and still led 59-47 late in the half when Miroslav Raduljica scored four points in an 8-1 run that pulled the Bucks within 60-55. But Love hit a three-pointer -- his third of the half -- and Pekovic hit a free throw to give the Wolves a 64-55 halftime lead. It was Minnesota's league-leading 10th half with 60 or more points.
It was a kind of homecoming for two players tonight. For Luc Mbah a Moute, it was his first game with the Wolves against the Bucks, the team he played with for the first five years of his career.
And for Nate Wolters, the St. Cloud Tech High School grad who played at South Dakota State, it was his first game against the Wolves, the team he grew up watching. Wolters was a second-round pick by Washington in the 2013 draft who got to Milwaukee two draft-day trades later. Given some minutes early in the season because of injuries to Luke Ridnour and Brandon Knight, Wolters has worked himself into the rotation. The Bucks like his aggressive play but want him to be more willing to take open outside shots.
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