Losing streak hits 11: Nets slip by Wolves, 107-105
- Blog Post by: Jerry Zgoda
- April 6, 2011 - 2:15 AM
The Timberwolves' lost their 11th consecutive game -- their longest streak since they lost 16 last season -- on Tuesday night in New Jersey.
And as I wrote in tonight's game story, there's only one word to describe the way they battled back from a 15-point deficit only to lose on Deron Williams' step-back jumper with 1.7 seconds left:
After he came within three assists of a triple double, Michael Beasley praised his team for its "character," "fight" and "pride" in coming back from a 13-point deficit early in the fourth quarter and from a five-point deficit with 1:11 to tie the game with fewer than eight seconds left.
Ultimately, Deron Williams won the game with a step-back jump shot over Luke Ridnour with 1.7 seconds left on a night when he tied a career high with 21 assists and then declared himself probably done for the rest of what remains of this season because of a hand/wrist injury that has bothered him for weeks.
Tuesday's game also included a moment that both Beasley and Anthony Tolliver suggested represents their season.
Down 104-99 with 1:11 left, the Wolves battled back, getting within three points on a pair of Beasley free throw with a minute left, then getting within one with 31.5 seconds left after Ridnour took the ball away from Williams and Tolliver scored on a fast-break layup.
The Nets called timeout, then Brook Lopez lost the ball on the ensuing inbounds play.
Anthony Randolph snatched it up and was off, heading down the court at full speed with Lopez closing fast from behind.
I was sitting second row right behind the basket. Randolph was coming straight at me and it looked like he glanced back just a split-second because he hurt big Brook coming.
He bobbled the ball as he was preparing to go up for a go-ahead dunk or layup and lost it straight out of bounds.
Lopez tried to close ground so hard he ran right out of one of his size 20 sneakers in the process.
"I'd like to claim I did something, but I don't know," Lopez said.
Now, of course, that play didn't cost the Wolves the game. They came back 17 seconds later and tied the game with Travis Outlaw was called for goaltending Beasley's short baseline shot with 7.8 seconds left.
And after Williams scored what would be the winner, Beasley had the chance to tie (or win) the game at the buzzer, but his off-balance jumper from around the three-point line (couldn't see exactly where his feet were) missed.
But, still, it perfectly symbolizes a season in which the Wolves have committed way too many unforced turnovers and let too many games slip away.
"Ball slipping away, that sums up our season," Tolliver said. "One play makes a big difference, but at the end of the day, it wasn't that one play that lost this game at all. We had 10 different plays, maybe 15, throughout the game that could have made the difference.
"It seemed like they wanted to give it to us and we were like, `Nah, take it back.' We definitely showed some heart coming back. We played some `D,' did some really good things. Still, we just couldn't finish."
Here's the game story from Tuesday's game with Randolph's take and reaction on that play.
A few other things about Tuesday's game:
* Without starting big men Kevin Love and Darko Milicic in the lineup, the Wolves did a much better job defending Lopez in the second half than the first half. He had 20 points by halftime and just 10 thereafter while Tolliver, Randolph and Nikola Pekovic all got turns trying to stop him.
* Williams shows you how much a star point guard means to a team.
"The difference is very obvious between when he plays and when he doesn't," Lopez said, referring to a recent six-game stretch when Williams sat out because of that wrist/hand. "I'm not that much of a believer in numbers, but those numbers tonight (18 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and a block to go with those 21 assists), it's tough to argue against those."
Williams' last assist, btw, came with more than nine minutes left in the game.
He is only the third player in the NBA this season to get 20 or more assists. The others: Rajon Rondo has done it twice and Steve Nash once.
Btw, Nash comes to Target Center Wednesday night with the Wolves looking to end that 11-game losing streak. They've got just four more games left this season to win at least one and prevent themselves from losing their final 15.
That's all I got from Newark. Kent's got Wednesday's game and then I'll be back to finish off the year with a Denver-Phoenix trip and the finale at home against Houston.
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