Your browser does not support iframes.
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.”