Luke Ridnour's floater lifts Wolves, who clawed out of 19-point hole
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
MINNEAPOLIS -- After trailing through three quarters, the Minnesota Timberwolves rallied behind a season-high 22 points from J.J. Barea, and Luke Ridnour made a jump shot as time expired for a 100-98 victory over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday at the Target Center.
The win moved the Wolves to .500 at 17-17, just one game behind the Portland Trail Blazers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
After missing a jump shot in the paint in the final minute of the Wolves' loss at Denver two nights earlier, Ridnour was rewarded.
"I was due," Ridnour said. "I missed that one, so I was due for this one."
Ridnour finished with 17 points and six assists.
"He knocks that down all the time," coach Rick Adelman said of Ridnour's final shot. "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."
Barea shot 5-of-6 from 3-point range, grabbed four rebounds and had four assists.
He scored 12 of his 22 points and had two crucial assists on a 3-pointer and the floater by Ridnour in the fourth quarter.
"J.J. was great the whole quarter," Adelman said. "Made shots. He found people. The last play they doubled him, he found Luke and Luke broke it down."
Williams, who finished with 13 points and nine rebounds, played down the stretch for the Wolves and helped them hold the Jazz to one field goal through eight minutes.
"He defended well," Adelman said of Williams, "and the thing I like about him is he rebounded in traffic -- that's one area the coaches have been talking about. But that says something about your team.
"You have J.J. step in, you had Martell step in and Derrick came in. You had different people give you energy and give you a lift and gave you an unbelievable win. A win I don't think anybody expected the way we played the game."
The Wolves trailed by as many as 14 points in the first quarter. They fought back to within three points midway through the third quarter, but things didn't turn around until the final frame.
"You never know what's going to happen," Adelman said. "We came out to such a terrible start; we couldn't hit a shot. But they hung with it. It's a very resilient group. They stayed with it in that fourth quarter. The energy level was just terrific. The crowd got in it. Luke just made an unbelievable play."
The game marks the second in which Adelman did not utilize Ricky Rubio down the stretch in the fourth quarter.
"That's good," Rubio said of other teammates playing well down the stretch. "That's good for this team. Don't only focus on players. We are a team and that's what can bring us to a playoff."
Nikola Pekovic returned to the starting line-up and finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds after suffering a sprained right ankle in the first half on Monday.
The Wolves started the fourth quarter down 15 points.
The Jazz had not made a field goal in five minutes when Barea chucked the ball to Ridnour on the 3-point line for the field goal that would complete a 23-8 run to pull the Wolves within one point down 91-90 with 2:50 to play.
• 20: Consecutive points the Jazz scored in the paint to open the game.
• 10: Points and rebounds for Kevin Love, who managed his league-leading 30th double-double of the season.
• 19: Largest deficit in the game for the Wolves, whose fifth double-digit comeback win was their largest yet.
• 2004-05: The last time the Wolves were at .500 or better at the All-Star break. At this time last year, the Wolves were 9-25.
• 17: Games won by the Wolves so far this season, the same number they won in the entirety of 2010-2011.
"I don't practice dunks. I just go out there and do it."
-- Derrick Williams on getting ready for the All-Star Dunk contest.
• Darko Milicic played six minutes after missing the Denver game due to strained stomach muscle suffered in the final one-tenth of a second against Philadelphia on Sunday.
• Malcolm Lee remains out after having surgery on Dec. 30 to repair a torn meniscus. He has been practicing, but he has not played in a game for the Wolves this season.
Apart from Love, Williams and Rubio, the Wolves will rest for six days over the All-Star Break. Williams and Rubio will participate in the Rising Stars game, Williams will participate in the dunk contest and Kevin Love will partake in both the All-Star game and the 3-point shooting contest.
All-Star action will be televised nationally on TNT. Following the break, the Wolves will head west to kick off a four-game road trip before returning to take on the Los Angeles Clippers at the Target Center on March 5.