Wolves erase double-digit lead before fading in overtime against Jazz
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The Minnesota Timberwolves continued a couple of season-long trends in Thursday's 111-106 OT loss to the Utah Jazz.
They fell behind by double-digits in the fourth quarter and appeared to be left for dead before storming back. But unlike their six double-digit, fourth-quarter comebacks this season, the Wolves ran out of steam in overtime and lost their fifth straight game in Utah.
Paul Millsap hit a jumper to put up the Jazz by four with 19.2 seconds to play and ice the decision.
The Wolves fell behind by as many as 12, but a 13-4 run -- thanks largely to a pair of 3-pointers by Luke Ridnour and another by Love -- cut the lead to just three points with a minute left.
Love had two opportunities for 3-pointers that would have tied the game but missed both shots before Ridnour corralled an offensive rebound on the second attempt and added a layup to come within a point.
Josh Howard converted only one of two free throws and the Wolves got the ball back down two points with 10.1 seconds remaining. Ridnour airballed a 3, but Nikola Pekovic tied the game with an easy lay-in.
The Jazz had a perfectly executed play to win the game, but a Millsap alley-oop spun around the rim before deciding not to drop to send the game for an extra frame.
The Wolves went punch-for-punch with the Jazz in overtime but allowed the home team to score the final six points of the game and grab the victory.
Likely more important than the game itself was the Wolves appearing to escape their second serious injury in three games.
Love came off the court holding the thumb on his left hand after he fell on it. Love was taped up by the training staff and eventually returned with 6:29 remaining in the game with the Wolves down 88-80.
The All-Star appeared ginger with his thumb, looked to be in pain and was expected to have X-rays taken after the game. He finished with team-high 25 points and 16 rebounds in 41 minutes.
It was the exact same Wolves team that took the court in Monday's win over Phoenix after no trades were made prior to Thursday's trade deadline despite the names of Michael Beasley and Luke Ridnour being thrown out amongst the avalanche of rumors.
The Wolves were lucky to trail by just six at the half. Love drilled a 3-pointer in the waning seconds of the second quarter to cut the lead to single digits. Love scored 11 of his 25 points in the first half.
Ridnour continued to elevate his game in the absence of Ricky Rubio. The 31-year-old showed why it was a wise move to hold onto him at the trade deadline by putting together a nice double-double, with 18 points and 13 assists on 7-of-12 shooting in 38 minutes at the point-guard spot.
Former Wolf Al Jefferson played the game through heartache, having lost the grandmother who helped raise him recently. Jefferson was scheduled to fly out after the game to pay his respects.
Jefferson got a double-double of his own, scoring 12 points and 13 boards on 5-of-13 shooting in 33 minutes.
Another Wolves flaw was exposed by shooting guard Gordon Haywood scoring 26 points off the bench. The Wolves continue to have a hard time keeping up defensively with the two-guard.
The game had plenty of false endings. Howard making both free throws. Ridnour getting more legs under his three-point attempt. Millsap finding a way to defy all logic and gravity by not converting the game-winner at regulation.
But it was redemption for Millsap as he hits the jumper to put the Jazz up four points with 19.2 seconds to play.
10: Points for each time at the previous tie before Pekovic knotted things up at 99-all, the score they would take into overtime.
18: Turnovers in a sloppy game for the Wolves. The Jazz made them pay, taking 24 points off the Wolves turnovers.
5: Turnovers off the bench for J.J. Barea, who finished only four assists in 18 minutes of relief for Ridnour. The two played together a bit in the fourth quarter, but coach Rick Adelman has had to largely abandon the two-point guard offense now that Rubio is on the shelf.
The smart money heading into Thursday's game was that if Beasley wasn't playing, it was because he was shipped out before Thursday afternoon's trade deadline.
But Beasley remains a Wolf for the rest of the season and sat out the game against the Jazz because of a toe injury he picked up in Monday's win at Phoenix.
Beasley warmed up in Utah and tried to give it a go, but he decided it was too painful, according to the team's PR staff. Beasley isn't expected to miss extended time and could be in the lineup as soon as Friday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The road trip moves further west, where the Wolves will open up a three-game set in California, beginning with a game on Friday against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Wolves have lost 18 straight games to the Lakers (27-16) and haven't won a game since March of 2007.
From there, the Wolves head to Sacramento on Sunday and then Golden State.