Nikola Pekovic

Nikola Pekovic is bulldozing the paint and Ricky Rubio is ready to start ramping up his minutes, giving the Minnesota Timberwolves hope that they can withstand another long stretch without All-Star forward Kevin Love.

Larry Drew’s Atlanta Hawks have hit the skids after a superb start to the season, prompting the coach to label them ‘’soft,” which never sits very well with professional athletes.

Pekovic had 25 points and a career-high 18 rebounds, Andrei Kirilenko added 21 points and the Timberwolves beat the Hawks 108-103 on Tuesday night.

Derrick Williams scored 17 points and Alexey Shved had 15 for the Timberwolves, who were missing coach Rick Adelman due to personal reasons and will be without Love for the foreseeable future while he deals with a broken right hand for the second time this season. Terry Porter filled in as coach and led the Wolves to their first victory over Atlanta since 2006, snapping an 11-game skid…

Josh Smith had 21 points and 13 rebounds and Al Horford had 19 points and 11 boards for the Hawks, who have lost three straight and four of their last five. They lost for the first time this year when Smith and Horford each get a double-double…

Rubio had eight assists, four steals and four points in 18 minutes in his first game back after missing the previous four with back spasms…

Lou Williams finished with 21 points and eight assists for the Hawks, who trailed by 14 to start the fourth but had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds.

– Reported by Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press