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Timberwolves cruise past Grizzlies for first win of season

The Minnesota Timberwolves finally built a lead too big to blow.

After building 17-point leads early in each of its first two games, only to later lose a big lead and the game on each occasion, Minnesota dominated nearly every single minute of its home opener Tuesday night in a 116-80 win over the Memphis Grizzlies at Target Center.

At one point, the Timberwolves led by 40 as they cruised to their first victory of the season and of the Tom Thibodeau era.

Minnesota (1-2) made 12 threes, shooting 60 percent from deep. Memphis, meanwhile, hit just four three-pointers—the type of advantage beyond the arc Minnesota hasn't had in recent years. All five Minnesota starters were in double digits, led by Zach LaVine's 31 points on 11-for-18 shooting.

Gorgui Dieng had 17 points on 8-for-9 shooting. Andrew Wiggins chipped in 17 and, in his first career start in place of the injured Ricky Rubio, Kris Dunn had 10 points, five assists and three rebounds.

Even the bench performed, with Apple Valley native Tyus Jones contributing six assists in 18 minutes in his first action of the season.

Memphis was a shell of itself without three of its top players. Mike Conley and Marc Gasol sat out to rest and Chandler Parsons missed the game with a knee injury. But Minnesota handled what was essentially the Grizzlies' second unit in every way imaginable. Memphis shot just 37 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 22 times, nine in the first quarter.

Even the third quarter went Minnesota's way. The Timberwolves outscored the Grizzlies 35-23 in the frame to extend a 26-point halftime lead after scoring a combined 28 points in the third quarter of their first two games.

Tuesday night was everything the most optimistic Timberwolves fans could have expected, and more, from Minnesota in Thibodeau's first season. And proof that the Timberwolves could indeed play four good quarters of basketball.

Utah 88, San Antonio 86: George Hill scored 22 points, including eight straight in a pivotal one-minute span of the fourth quarter, and the Utah Jazz made the plays they needed in the end game to surprise the San Antonio Spurs.

Orlando 103, Philadelphia 101: Serge Ibaka dropped in two free throws with 1.4 seconds left as the Orlando Magic beat the Philadelphia 76ers to earn their first victory of the season.

Indiana 115, L.A. Lakers 108: Paul George scored Indiana's final 12 points, including the go-ahead field goal with 1:39 remaining, and the Pacers rallied to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers. George, who was 12 of 12 from the free throw line, scored eight in the final 1:39 to finish with a game-high 30 points.

Miami 108, Sacramento 96: Goran Dragic scored 25 points to lead the Miami Heat to an overtime victory over the Sacramento Kings. Dragic hit three 3-pointers and Tyler Johnson scored five points in overtime for the Heat, who secured the win 11 unanswered points.

Cleveland 128, Houston 120: Kevin Love scored 24 points and picked off two key steals on consecutive possessions in the Cleveland Cavaliers' victory. Love scored nine points in the fourth quarter and his steals triggered a 9-0 scoring burst in the span of 39 seconds to turn a one-point game into a 105-95 lead with 6:06 left.

Detroit 102, N.Y. Knicks 89: Tobias Harris had 25 points and 10 rebounds and the Detroit Pistons won their third straight by pulling away from the New York Knicks. Marcus Morris supplied 22 points and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope contributed 19 as Detroit (3-1) handed coach Stan Van Gundy his 450th career victory. The Pistons held the Knicks scoreless in the last 5:40.