NBA Game Summary - Minnesota at Atlanta
(Thursday, December 6th)
Final Score: Atlanta 90, Minnesota 89
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Joe Johnson scored 21 points, and his fadeaway jumper with no time remaining lifted Atlanta past Minnesota, 90-89, in thrilling fashion at Philips Arena.
The Hawks, who had a 19-point first-half lead completely evaporate, were outscored 27-8 in the third quarter and found themselves engaged in a see-saw battle down the stretch before pulling out what should have been a runaway victory.
Marko Jaric's layup gave Minnesota a one-point lead with 2.2 seconds left, but Johnson took the inbound pass following an Atlanta timeout, and from the top of the key dribbled to his right and pulled up, shooting the ball over a pair of defenders.
"The shots weren't falling (most of the game)," said Johnson. "I just stuck with it. My teammates and coaching staff, they all had faith in me. I got a good look at the end and made a shot."
Josh Smith had a game-high 28 points, finished with seven boards and had a season-high seven blocks for Atlanta, which has won three of its last five games. Marvin Williams chipped in with 20 points, while Al Horford scored eight and had 15 rebounds in the victory.
Craig Smith scored 20 points and had nine rebounds to lead the Timberwolves, who have lost five straight and fell to 2-15 on the season. Jaric fell just shy of a triple-double with 18 points, eight boards and nine assists, while Al Jefferson donated 17 points in a losing cause.
Rookie Corey Brewer also finished with 18 rebounds, two better than Jefferson's pervious season high against Atlanta on November 24.
Things got interesting after halftime, as the Hawks' 13-point lead was shaved to four early on, then cut to two on a running layup by Craig Smith with 4:48 remaining in the third. Atlanta quickly pulled back in front by four, but the Timberwolves came alive with a 10-0 run to take their first lead of the night.
Jefferson's lay-in tied it at 61, Jaric added a bucket after a missed Josh Childress jumper at the other end and Jefferson then continued the rally with a hook shot that made it 65-61. Sebastian Telfair then capped the spurt with a shot off the glass, giving Minnesota a stunning 67-61 lead heading to the fourth.
Atlanta continued to battle as the lead changed hands several times in the final stanza, but endured a complete defensive breakdown as Jaric drove right down the lane, tipping home the inbound pass by Telfair to make it 87-86 with just 20 seconds left.
Josh Smith had the answer when he beat two defenders, spun around and shot it in off the glass, but the Timberwolves pulled ahead when Jaric drove the lane and laid it in with just 2.2 seconds remaining.
Johnson then took possession, and with just two seconds left hit the fadeaway at the buzzer for the win.
"It was a tough game," said Jaric. "We can't allow oursevles, first of all, to start a game like that. We did come back in the game and gave a hell of an effort, but just the end of the game they had a little bit more luck. We executed very well and I think we played good defense. Johnson hit a tough shot and there's really nothing you can say about that."
The game almost looked to be a laugher, as the Hawks used a 9-0 run early to open a 15-5 advantage. Childress' easy finger-roll lay in made it 21-7 later on, and by the end of the first quarter Atlanta surged to a 29-15 lead.
The lead grew to as many as 19 in the second quarter and the Hawks eventually cruised to the break with what appeared to be a comfortable 53-40 margin.
Hawks guard Tyronn Lue (calf) and centers Zaza Pachulia (concussion-like symptoms) and Lorenzen Wright (foot/hamstring) all missed the game...Minnesota has lost five straight at Philips Arena...Johnson also had nine rebounds...The Hawks shot 40.5 percent (30-of-74) in the contest, while Minnesota made 38.9 percent (37-of-95) of its shots...Minnesota head coach Randy Wittman missed his second straight game after undergoing back surgery. Assistant coach Jerry Sichting has filled in during his absence.
12/06 22:56:03 ET