The key for J.J. Barea is being able to forget.
Barea entered Wednesday’s victory over Washington in a two-game shooting slump and had spent the first three quarters of the Wizards game missing five of six shots.
But in the fourth quarter? Barea and Ricky Rubio were the two biggest reasons the Wolves won the game. Barea hit four of six shots — including both of the three-pointers he took — and scored 10 of his 12 points as the Wolves, down eight with 9:29 left in the game, rallied for the victory.
“I learned that from Jason Terry,” Barea said, referring to his former Dallas teammate. “He was big with that. He would struggle the whole game, and then he’d be, ‘It’s fourth-quarter time.’ He’d go and give us 15 in a row. You have to stay with it, keep fighting.”
Adelman admitted after the game that he was seconds away from yanking Barea from the game. Not for the misses, but for what he saw as a little hesitation. Instead he left Barea in and was rewarded. After missing a layup early in the quarter, Barea hit a three-pointer with 8:19 left to draw the Wolves within 73-69. He hit another three-pointer with 5:25 left to tie the game at 77. Then he hit a reverse layup with 3:55 left to give the Wolves an 83-81 lead.
But his biggest hoop came with 28.2 seconds left, when Rubio stole the ball from Wizards guard John Wall, then got it to Barea, who completed the fastbreak.
But it was the first three-pointer that got things going. “I’m streaky,” Barea said. “That’s all I need. I know after that, a couple shots are going to go in.”
The injury-riddled Wolves have struggled to shoot the three-pointer, so Adelman said it is vitally important that Barea — who is capable from long range — take those shots when he’s open.
“He’s got to be ready to shoot,” Adelman said. “He’s the type of guy who can get hot.”
• Neither forward Andrei Kirilenko (calf) nor center Nikola Pekovic (abdominal strain) will play Saturday in Denver. Adelman did, however, joke that he thought Pekovic might go with the team just to get the per diem.
• The Nuggets have won 12 consecutive home games and are 27-3 at home. One of those three losses came to the Wolves Jan. 3. What was the key to that game?
“We have Kevin [Love], Andrei [Kirilenko] and Pekovic,” Adelman said. “That helps.” That was the game in which Love broke his hand, an injury that required surgery.