Not just trouble closing out the game tonight, but also maintaining the lead. The TWolves were up 18 late in the third quarter and seemed on their way to a back-to-back victory, but in the final 15.5 minutes of the game, the Hawks went on a 40-20 run, erasing that once sizable lead and running away with a narrow 91-93 win.
With under 30 seconds to go, Ricky Rubio found himself open for a three. He drained it, which tied the game at 91. The ensuing possession, Josh Smith threw up a three which came off as a long rebound over Kevin Love's head. The Hawks rookie Ivan Johnson snagged the board, plowed over Kevin Love and was fouled on the shot. He went to the line for two and nailed 'em both. Following a Timberwolves timeout, and 4.1 on the clock, Kevin Love took a three for the win, didn't find the bottom of the net & the Hawks sealed the W.
Looking back, the questionable call came in the final seconds. That Ivan Johnson rebound and attempted putback where he plowed over Love, clearly looked like a charge the first time I saw it. On the replay, it still looked sketchy. But, I played it back about ten more times, he was set and it should've been a charge! Tough call to make for the refs...but they didn't even make one blocking or charging. Nothing you can do now. The Wolves drop to 4-8 on the year as Atlanta improves to 9-4.
Let's take a look at some of tonight's key players statistics tonight...
Minnesota got a huge lift from Kevin Love & Ricky Rubio. 13 of his 30 points came in the 3rd quarter. The Hawks did a solid job of keeping him off the boards in the first half, allowing just 4rebs through the first two quarters. Ricky had his 5th double-double of the year and every minute he's on the bench isn't good for Minnesota! Ellington came off the bench and 9 of those 13 points came in the 4th quarter, the other 4 in the second quarter. Nikola Pekovic also saw the floor quite a bit today, in 17min. he had 7pts, 3rebs, 1ast, on 3-of-4 FG, 1-1 FT, but also 3tos & 3fls...could be in line for more playing time...or he only saw the floor so much, because he was going up against Zaza Pachulia & Jason Collins.
For Atlanta, they got a great lift off their bench from Ivan Johnson. 4 of his 11 rebounds came on the offensive end, including that big one that got his team the win, in the final seconds. I watched the final quarter of that Miami-Atlanta game last week and I remember Chris Bosh postgame, when asked about Ivan Johnson, he responded: Yeah, he was huge for Atlanta tonight, I'm gonna be honest he wasn't even on our scouting report (I'm paraphrasing, of course). For Joe Johnson, he had a good game, the Wolves simply didn't have any big guards to match up with him. Wesley did all right, but he's just too good a scorer. For Teague, it seemed way too easy for the quicky guard to slice his way into the lane.
Let's take a look at some statistics for each team tonight...
Minnesota had a rough night from three and for a team that relies on that a lot, shooting under 20% hurts, big time. After getting to the line 38 times last night, the Wolves went to the line just 12 times, but made all but one. The Hawks held a +11 on the boards as well as a +20 on fast break points, led mainly by Jeff Teague. The Timberwolves were actually able to force the Hawks into more turnovers and turn them into more points. If you look at the stats, for such a close game, there's few things you can point to and say: that's why they won! Atlanta did grab 22pts at the line and with seven made threes they snagged 21 points.
The Timberwolves have tomorrow off, they'll be back in action vs. the Kings on Monday. I'm heading up to the game, should be a good one back at the Target Center with Evans, Thornton & Cousins coming to town. Stay tuned for a gameday preview of that one coming out tomorrow as well as some pictures and video of tonight's game...coming soon. Thanks for reading and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!