The Minnesota Timberwolves are headed into NBA All-Star weekend with some momentum. Luke Ridnour hit a game-wining buzzer-beater and J.J. Barea came off the bench to score 22 points as the Wolves picked up a 100-98 victory over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.
Minnesota went on a 14-2 run to pull within two with just over three minutes left in the contest and then were able to do the little things on the way to victory. The Wolves had trouble closing out the Denver Nuggets earlier in the week, but they apparently learned from their mistakes with near-flawless play in the final minute of Wednesday night's game at the Target Center.
Rookie forward Derrick Williams was instrumental down the stretch as he converted on a three-point play with less than a minute remaining to tie the game. Less than 20 seconds later Kevin Love stole the ball from former teammate Al Jefferson, got it ahead to Williams and the rookie calmly stroked two free-throws to give the Wolves a two-point lead with 42.5 seconds left in the contest.
After that it turned into a back and forth affair before Jefferson made a jump shot to tie the game at 98 points apiece with seven seconds left in the contest. The Wolves were determined not to let another game slip away, though, and Ridnour nailed a floater on the other end as the game clock expired to give the Wolves the win.
The Wolves were led on the night with Barea's 22 points off the bench, but it was a solid team effort. Nikola Pekovic returned from last game's injury showing few effects to score 15 points and grab 12 rebounds, Love had a quiet double-double with 10 points and 10 boards and Ridnour finished the night with 17 points to lead all starters.
Jefferson, the former Wolves centerpiece, scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Jazz while Paul Millsap led all scorers with 25 points.