Ridnour's Buzzer Beater Sends Wolves Past Jazz, 100-98
The shot was nothing new. Wolves guard Luke Ridnour attempts it seemingly every day in practices and in games. Standing at 6-foot-2, his patented running floater off his left leg is Ridnour’s way of combating opponents’ size in the lane.
The situation, however, couldn’t have been more different. With less than five seconds left on the clock, Ridnour took a pass from fellow guard JJ Barea, broke through the lane and let the ball go as time expired.
The result: An eruption at Target Center. Ridnour’s buzzer-beater with no time left handed the Timberwolves a 100-98 win over Northwest Division rival Utah on Wednesday, battling back from 18 points down to earn a much needed win before the All-Star Break.
“I knew when it left his hand it was in,” forward Kevin Love said. “It just looked so good; it was in rhythm. I mean, Luke works on that shot, so for him to make it, man, I’m very happy for him. It’s just a big win for us.”
Minnesota now sits at 17-17 overall, tying its wins total from last season, and gives the team a new streak of confidence it desperately wanted heading into the second half of the year. With 13 of their next 18 games on the road, the Wolves are still very much in contention for a playoff spot.
But it didn’t come easy.
Minnesota opened up the game shooting 4-for-21 from the field in the first quarter. On five occasions the Jazz (15-17) opened up double-digit leads in the game, including leading by 10 or more points for the entire second quarter and holding a 15 point lead with eight minutes to play.
The Wolves seemed to lack energy through much of the first half. Utah held a 10-1 steals advantage in the first half and through three quarters had a 48-18 lead in points in the paint.
Still, the Wolves continued to chip away. In the fourth trailing by double digits, Barea began providing the spark Minnesota was looking for. He led the charge with a 3-pointer with 7:45 remaining to cut the lead to 12, drove for a lay-up and a foul that cut the lead to nine and hit another 3-pointer with 4:18 left to cut the lead to four.
“JJ came in and brought a lot of energy,” Ridnour said. “I think that picked everybody else up. We were a completely different team than we were in the first three quarters.”
Rookie forward Derrick Williams added another spark. In the fourth quarter alone, Williams had six rebounds—two offensive—and scored all nine of his fourth quarter points in the final five minutes. His put-back lay-up and free throw tied the game at 93-93 with 56 seconds left, and his pair of free throws with 28 seconds on the clock gave Minnesota its first lead since holding a 2-0 advantage in the first.
Meanwhile, the Wolves held Utah to 7-of-19 shooting in the fourth.
“That says something about your team,” coach Rick Adelman said. “You have JJ step in, you had Martell (Webster) step in and Derrick came in. You had different people give you energy and give you a lift and gave you an unbelievable win.”
Minnesota led 98-96 when former Wolves center Al Jefferson knocked down a 16-foot jumper with seven seconds on the clock, knotting the score at 98-98.
Seconds later, when Barea found Ridnour with time expiring, the Wolves got the win and a major emotional boost heading into the break.
“He knocks that down all the time,” Adelman said. “It’s a floater; he knows he has to get it off against the big guys. That was unbelievable. In traffic, getting around the guy and knocking it down. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Ridnour finished with 17 points and six assists on the night. Barea led the way with 22 points, center Nikola Pekovic had 15 points and 12 rebounds and Love finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Williams finished with 13 points and nine boards, while guard Ricky Rubio had seven points and six assists.
For Utah, which falls to 3-11 on the road and has now lost 10 of its last 13 games overall, Paul Millsap led the way with 25 points. Jefferson had 18 points and 11 rebounds, Josh Howard had 19 points and Devin Harris had 10.
The Wolves’ bench outscored the Jazz reserves 42-19 in the game.
Adelman said he hopes this is the type of win that springboards the Wolves into the second half of the season.
“It says a lot about our team when you’re down the whole game, especially after we lost a close game at Denver,” Adelman said. “They didn’t quit. The great thing about a game like this is the crowd gets into it, and the team feeds off the crowd.”
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