Wolves Snap Losing Skid With 87-82 Win Over Wizards
After a six-game drought, the Minnesota Timberwolves took care of the ball, had a big fourth quarter and snapped their losing streak with a 87-82 win over the Washington Wizards on Monday night.
“I haven’t seen [the locker room] this happy and excited in a while,” forward Derrick Williams said. “We lost, what, six in a row? Any time we get a win, it’s good. I think everybody has a different mood.”
Wolves vs. Wizards
The Wolves were led by another passionate effort from point guard Ricky Rubio, who came away with 15 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and six steals. After the final horn sounded, Rubio tossed the game ball high into the air, showing his relief.
“Finally, we get one,” Rubio said. “We fought all the way through.”
Both teams went on significant runs in the first quarter, first with Washington putting up a 11-2 streak and then with Minnesota stringing together its own 9-2 mark. The Wizards led 29-24 after the first 12 minutes, due in large part to 10 points each from Trevor Ariza and John Wall—the latter of whom shot 4-for-4 from the field.
The Wolves recaptured the lead in the second quarter as the Wizards scored just 14 points off four made shots. The Minnesota bench came out and contributed, as Chris Johnson and Dante Cunningham each scored six points before half, including a couple big slams from Johnson. Riding a big 28-6 scoring advantage in the paint, the Wolves went into the halftime break up 48-43.
Third quarters have been tough all year for Minnesota, and Wednesday night was no exception. The Wolves shot just 5-for-22 from the field, but the Wizards didn’t do much better—making only six baskets and leaving Minnesota still leading by the end of the quarter.
Finally turning things on, Washington jumped out of the break with a 10-0 run. But J.J. Barea—who had shot a thin 1-for-11 on Monday night before being ejected—came up big with two 3-pointers to catch up and tie the contest at 77-77.
“I thought it was going to be the same thing,” Williams said. “Starting the fourth quarter with turnovers and easy baskets for them. But we stuck with it, and we knocked down shots when we needed it.”
Completing an 18-6 run over the last part of the fourth quarter, the Wolves held on and clinched the win as Rubio dove on the hardwood and pushed the ball up to Barea for a breakaway lay-up.
“It seemed like at the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth quarter we ran out of energy,” Rubio said. “But we are nine players … it’s hard. We’re going to fight all the way through until the end.”
Williams paced the Wolves with 16 points, his third straight game leading the team in scoring. Luke Ridnour and Rubio both pitched in 15, and Barea and Cunningham added another 12 and 11 off the bench, respectively. Minnesota outscored Washington in the paint 42-22, and gave away just 14 turnovers all game.
John Wall shot 7-for-15 on his way to 19 points, also dishing out seven assists. Trevor Ariza joined the starting lineup in place of injured Brad Beal and scored 16 more.
Leader of the Pack: Ricky Rubio
He took the ball to the rack, hit free throws, dished out assists and disrupted as a defender. After Washington went on a 10-0 run to start the fourth quarter, Rubio was subbed in and logged four assists and four steals to help seal on the win. He ended with 15 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and six steals.
When we’re aggressive, we’re a good team,” Rubio said. We need that win. It’s a team effort.”
Play of the Game
With 30 seconds left and up by one point, Rubio poked the ball away from John Wall and threw himself on the floor. He knocked the ball up to J.J. Barea, who streaked towards the hoop and put the Wolves ahead by three. From there, Ridnour hit two free throws and the game was finalized.
“JJ is complaining that it was his steal, I think he did great defense, but it was my steal.”—Wolves guard Ricky Rubio in the locker room. After the win, Barea and Rubio jokingly disputed whose statistics should add the late steal, as both were in contact with the ball.
The Wolves will take a day off Thursday and resume practice on Friday. They travel out West to Denver for a single-game road trip on Saturday before returning home to host Dallas on Sunday.