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The Minnesota Timberwolves are turning into a regular group of road warriors this season, as they picked up another victory away from the Target Center on Friday night. The Wolves went into the Prudential Center and defeated the New Jersey Nets by a final score of 108-105. The victory was Minnesota's sixth away from home this season. For a team that managed just five road wins in each of the last two seasons (going 5-36 on the road in each campaign), it's a pretty significant step forward.
The Wolves got a big game from an unlikely source on Friday night, as second-year center Nikola Pekovic came off of the bench to pace the team with 27 points and 11 rebounds. Kevin Love chipped in with 20 points and rebounds, and Ricky Rubio put up yet another double-double with ten points and ten assists. Rubio also came up with six steals on the evening.
New Jersey can't blame this loss on Anthony Morrow, as he led all scorers with 42 points, including shooting 8-of-11 from behind the arc. Kris Humphries added 16 points and 9 rebounds for the Nets, and guard Deron Williams had 12 points and 14 assists.
Minnesota led after one period of this one by a score of 23-19, and opened that lead up to as much as fourteen points as a 13-1 run got the score to 36-22 with a little more than eight minutes remaining in the first half of play. After that, however, the Nets caught fire, answering with a 23-5 run of their own and, eventually, going into the break with a 50-49 lead.
The Wolves put together a strong third quarter, and took an 80-75 advantage into the fourth. The game was tied at 99 with 1:35 left to play when Rubio came up with one of those six steals and fed Luke Ridnour for a three-pointer that made the score 102-99. Williams turned it over, and Ridnour buried two free throws to extend the lead to 104-99.
Just when it looked like the Wolves had it in the bag, Morrow converted on a four-point play to make the score 104-103. J.J. Barea and Ridnour each hit two more from the charity stripe, sandwiched around a dunk from Humphries, to make the score 108-105, and Williams threw the ball away attempting a pass on New Jersey's final possession. Rubio grabbed the ball and simply lofted it downcourt as the time ran out, allowing the Wolves to escape with a victory.
That means the Timberwolves have a chance. . .again. . .to even their record at .500 when they return to the Target Center on Saturday night to host a Houston Rockets team that they defeated 120-108 just this past Monday. It will be the Wolves' fifth attempt of the year to even their record at .500, a mark the franchise hasn't seen since the second game of last season.