The Sixers started the second half of the season the same way they finished the first — by losing.

And they showed a frustrating way to do it. Nikola Pekovic, who scored 27 points and tied a career high with 18 rebounds, hit a field goal early in the final quarter. It would be the last field goal of the game for the Timberwolves, who still beat the Sixers 94-87 Wedensday night.

Their last 16 points came at the free-throw line, but it was enough, as Minnesota led 76-67 after three quarters.

So much for the Sixers plans to be physical. That’s the way Pekovic likes to play.

“If you play physical with Pek, you’re in trouble because he hits the weight room,” Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio said. “His arm is as big as my head.”

Derrick Williams had 17 points and eight rebounds and Andrei Kirilenko added 15 points and five assists in his return from a thigh injury for the Timberwolves, who finally figured out how to close one out for their fourth win in 20 games.

Evan Turner scored 17 points and Jrue Holiday scored 16 after making his All-Star debut Sunday for the Sixers, who couldn’t come up with an answer for Pekovic in the paint in a game that featured 76 combined free-throw attempts and 53 fouls. Philadelphia has lost seven straight road games and has won just six times away from home all season, the third fewest wins in the NBA.