Minnesota's Kevin Love (42) tries to draw a foul during the first half against Milwaukee on Wednesday.

Morry Gash, Associated Press

TIMBERWOLVES 85, MILWAUKEE 84 Up next: 7 p.m. Monday vs. Oklahoma City (season opener) • Target Center • TV: FSN (830-AM)

Final surge rescues Wolves

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA
  • Star Tribune
  • December 22, 2011 - 12:49 AM

MILWAUKEE - Whether meaningful or meaningless, the Timberwolves finished this truncated, two-game NBA preseason undefeated Wednesday after they scored the game's final 12 points to beat the Bucks 85-84 at the Bradley Center.

Four days after they thumped them by 21 points at Target Center, the Wolves finished with a 14-2 run right after giving up a 12-1 run that put the Bucks ahead 82-71 with 2:52 left.

"Meaningless," Wolves forward Kevin Love said of preseason play. "But a test being down 11 with 3:49 left [actually, 2:52 left]. That's real. That's good for us."

It was also rare for a team that last season found nearly every way to lose games it seemingly had won. Wolves coach Rick Adelman put starters Love and Michael Beasley back into the game for the final five minutes and they combined to score all of those 14 finishing points.

Love had 10 of them, including a three-pointer with 16.3 seconds left that brought the Wolves within 84-83. After former Buck Luke Ridnour stole a lousy Milwaukee pass, Beasley drew a foul and made the winning free throws with 9.1 seconds left.

"I just liked that we didn't quit," Adelman said. "We kept coming at them. It's a matter of them keeping their heads up. I think there's a lot in this game we can take back and we can look at and we can learn from."

Comfort zone

While guards Ricky Rubio (sprained ankle) and J.J. Barea (quad contusion) remained in Minnesota, rookie combo guard Malcolm Lee got a chance Wednesday and delivered nine points, five assists and four rebounds, with four turnovers.

"It feels good to be in the rotation and just get comfortable out there," said Lee, a second-round pick. "I did good, minus the turnovers. I think that's going to come when I know all the plays and when I feel more comfortable out there. I'm just looking to keep improving."

Older, wiser

Bonzi Wells' 16 minutes were his most extensive NBA action since he left the league in 2008. He still thinks he can play -- and Adelman agrees -- but the Wolves already have 15 players with guaranteed contracts.

"I used to think I could just run through a brick wall and the wall would say, 'Ouch,'" he said. "But now I got to really play from the neck up and just understand my body and understand my age. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I can still get up and down and run with the young guys. But I just have to be a lot smarter with what I do and how I do it."


• Sloppy is a good word to describe Wednesday's game. The Wolves had 22 turnovers, five more than their season average last season.

"Still way too many," Adelman said.

• Adelman didn't use the smallish frontcourt --Beasley at small forward, Love at center, rookie Derrick Williams at power forward -- that was so effective Saturday. Williams showed his athleticism on a soaring dunk attempt that was both unsuccessful and drew a charging foul.

• Bucks coach Scott Skiles said he deliberately didn't call timeout after Love's three-pointer pulled the Wolves within a point with 16 seconds left.

"I wanted to see what happened, and we panicked," he said, referring to Larry Sanders' horrible pass that Ridnour intercepted.

• Love said he didn't expect to go back in the game for the final five minutes, after jamming his ankle in the third quarter. "I kept myself ready, my mind ready, just in case," said Love, who finished with 22 points and 16 rebounds in 27 minutes.

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