Wolves blow late seven-point lead in loss to Jeremy Lin, Knicks
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves blew a seven-point late lead in the fourth quarter and fell victim to the international phenomenon known as "Lin-sanity" in Saturday's 100-98 loss to the New York Knicks.
A sellout crowd of 20,232 fans -- the largest Target Center crowd since 2004 -- gathered to see Ricky Rubio and Jeremy Lin square off against one another for the first time. And it was Rubio and Lin who decided the game.
Lin's free throw gave the Knicks a one-point lead with 4.9 seconds to go and Rubio dribbled the ensuing possession off his foot, causing a turnover that all but sealed the decision.
The Wolves got a final shot with 1.3 seconds left, but Kevin Love's fadeaway 3-point prayer never had a chance of being answered, and the home team went quietly into the locker room, losers of their past three and all of a sudden two games under .500.
Lin finished with 20 points on 8-of-24 shooting. He also added eight assists, six rebounds, three steals and six turnovers in 39 minutes.
Rubio scored 12 points, dished eight assists, stole three balls and turned it over twice -- both coming late in the fourth quarter.
The Wolves have nobody but themselves to blame for the loss, committing 23 turnovers the Knicks turned into 28 points.
"Just a disappointing loss," coach Rick Adelman said. "Again, turnovers. It seems like we are right back where we were three weeks ago. You can't give a team possessions like that."
Said Rubio, "If we turn the ball over like that, it is impossible to control the game. We
can't control the tempo of the game because the turnovers make them (get) easy baskets."
The Wolves took a 33-30 lead after 12 minutes despite turning the ball seven times. Love had 15 points and seven rebounds in that span against the Knicks -- the same team that allowed his historic 30-point, 30-rebound game last season.
The turnovers kept coming in the second quarter, with the Wolves chucking another seven balls away. Yet they still took a 62-54 lead -- the second highest scoring first half of the season -- thanks to 57.1% shooting from the field.
"If we don't value the ball more we are going to have a hard time beating anybody," Adelman said. "You have to value the ball more. You have to make better decisions. We are very lackadaisical with the ball."
Anybody hoping the Lin hysteria would die down will have to wait at least another day, as the 23-year-old who has gone from unknown to phenom in a week had the crowd hanging on his every move.
In the first half, Lin had 15 points, including the final six Knicks points to close out the quarter. But he was quiet after that until hitting a clutch free throw to break a 98-all deadlock.
After his 15-point first half, Lin shot just 1-of-14 the rest of the game and was ineffective for large stretches.
Adelman said they did a better job of sticking to their game-plan on Lin in the second half, forcing him to go to his left and not allowing him to drive to the basket. But Lin's teammates stepped up when he struggled.
Landry Fields, who used his 6-foot-7 frame to create a mismatch on the undersized Luke Ridnour and Rubio, scored 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting. And Iman Shumpert scored 20 points off the bench.
"Shumpert hit some huge shots," Love said, who scored a game-high 32 points and grabbed 21 rebounds in the loss. "They made big plays."
The Wolves let the Knicks back in the game in the fourth quarter, when they went over seven minutes without a field goal and shot just 3-of-19 in the final frame.
20,232: Fans at Target Center -- the biggest crowd since March 12, 2004, against the Los Angeles Lakers.
0: Wins in the throwback Muskies jerseys the Wolves have worn for three games this season and will wear them three more times.
1: Career technical fouls for Rubio, who was whistled for a scuffle in the first half.
Darko Milicic once again sat out because of the sprained right ankle he suffered at practice on Monday. He has now missed the last four games and continues to be listed as day-to-day, while Pekovic continues to lay claim to the starting position that Darko held for the first 18 games of the season.
"He has been working out with our people," Adelman said before the game. "They say he has been getting better so I would hope by Monday we will have him. We will need him against (Dwight) Howard (of Orlando) especially."
"I am still trying to figure out what a Muskie is."
-- Anthony Tolliver
The Wolves are off Sunday and will travel to Orlando ahead of Monday's game against the Magic. It is the first meeting between the two this season.
The Magic (16-11) swept the season series a year ago, including a 128-86 blowout in Orlando in November 2010. The Magic have also won the previous six contests against the Wolves, dating back to 2008. The last time the Wolves beat the Magic was April 11, 2008.
The Wolves will then get another day off on Tuesday before returning home to play the Charlotte Bobcats at Target Center on Wednesday.