Rookie's big blocked shot ends Wolves' slide

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 28, 2011 - 8:52 AM

Wes Johnson's heroics ensured Kevin Love's 30/20 effort wasn't wasted.

view larger photos


Timberwolves rookie Wes Johnson transported himself back in time and place Sunday evening and by doing so, he delivered not one but two game-saving defensive plays in a season that has so lacked such things.

Instead of Target Center on another cold winter's night in a long, long season, Johnson suggested he was a boy back home in Texas instead for the final 17 seconds of a 126-123 victory over Golden State, the Wolves' first victory at home in a month.

His team led by nine points in the first quarter, trailed by 14 points in the second quarter and led by 17 early in the fourth, but everything came down to those final 17 seconds.

That's when the Wolves led by a point, but the Warriors had the ball and a matchup they liked: star guard Monta Ellis dribbling down the clock out top while Johnson fidgeted and prepared for him to drive.

"I just looked at it as we're in the backyard one-and-one and I need a stop to win," he said. "So that's how I treated it."

Except this time, there was no asphalt, no wooden backboard and no silence. With the crowd screaming and his teammates behind him shouting instruction, Johnson shadowed Ellis' drive to basket and provided a blocked shot with 4.3 seconds left that led to two Anthony Tolliver free throws and a three-point cushion and ultimately to one final game-saving defensive play.

When Johnson and teammate Michael Beasley finally swarmed Warriors guard Steph Curry near the sideline and kept him from attempting a game-tying three-point shot at the buzzer, the Wolves at last had ended a seven-game losing streak.

They also won for the first time at Target Center since a Jan. 29 game against Toronto and discovered the type of defense that they had discussed in a lengthy team meeting before Saturday's practice because it has eluded them so often this season.

It probably didn't hurt that teammate Jonny Flynn joked with Johnson before Sunday's game and told Johnson that he'd have to step forth now defensively with Corey Brewer gone to the New York in last week's trade with the Knicks.

"Jonny said, 'You're the new Brew, you've really got to step up for us,' " Johnson said. "So I really took that into consideration."

Johnson provided 17 points, seven rebounds, three assists, four steals and two blocked shots while Kevin Love offered a 37-point, 23-rebound game and tied franchise records for free throws attempted (23) and made (18) in a game. Beasley scored 25 points, his most in nearly five weeks.

Curry made five threes and scored 33 points but couldn't get that final shot off after Johnson and Beasley swarmed around him. Ellis made seven of 19 shots -- a tough shooting night that convinced Johnson that Ellis would try to drive for the winning basket -- and scored 20 points. Four Warriors scored 20 or more points.

Ultimately, Johnson's defense overcame a Golden State offense that scored 41 points in the first quarter and 73 by halftime.

"He's the type of player who has all the attributes that go into a great defensive player," Love said. "He's tall. He's lengthy. He's a sparkplug kind of guy. He's high-energy, the type of guy who's only going to improve. And he's only a rookie. He's going to get better. If he wants to be, he can be a great defender in this league."

  • related content

  • A fast pace, on and off the court

    Monday February 28, 2011

    These three Wolves are living the big life but are still playful rookies in many ways outside the arena.

  • Winning eases Love's frustration

    Monday February 28, 2011

    Kevin Love had 37 points and 23 rebounds for his fourth 30/20 game of the season.

  • Recap: Wolves 126, Golden State 123

    Monday February 28, 2011

    MVP: Kevin Love, TimberwolvesJust another 30/20 game -- his fourth this season -- with 37 points and 23 rebounds. The...

  • Wes Johnson's big block


    Up next: 7 p.m. Tuesday vs. L.A. Lakers at Target Center • TV: FSN (1130-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Atlanta 2
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
NY Yankees 1
Detroit 5 FINAL
Baltimore 4
Toronto 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Cincinnati 2 FINAL
Cleveland 4
San Diego 3 FINAL
Seattle 4
Chicago WSox 6 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Kansas City 13 FINAL
Texas 2
Oakland 9 FINAL
San Francisco 2
Wisc-Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Milwaukee 8
Arizona 6 FINAL
Colorado 3
Univ of Minnesota 1 FINAL
Minnesota 3
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 105
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Orlando 100
Cleveland 120 FINAL
Toronto 112
Utah 84 FINAL
Boston 85
Charlotte 115 FINAL
Brooklyn 91
Denver 100 FINAL
Minnesota 85
Detroit 85 FINAL
New Orleans 88
LA Lakers 94 FINAL
Miami 100
Philadelphia 118 FINAL
Oklahoma City 123
Memphis 102 FINAL
Houston 100
Sacramento 85 FINAL
San Antonio 112
Milwaukee 93 FINAL
Golden State 102
Portland 98 FINAL
LA Clippers 93
Ottawa 3 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
NY Rangers 1 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 2
Pittsburgh 1 FINAL
Colorado 3
Montreal 1 FINAL
Anaheim 3
Longwood 65 FINAL
Presbyterian 61
Campbell 64 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 72
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 80
Ohio State 77 FINAL
Penn State 67
Maine 66 FINAL
Albany 83
Duquesne 81 FINAL
Fordham 66
George Washington 67 FINAL
George Mason 51
Tennessee 78 FINAL
LSU 63
Notre Dame 71 FINAL
Louisville 59
SE Missouri St 74 FINAL
Morehead State 79
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Mount St Marys 58
Hartford 63 FINAL
New Hampshire 67
Wagner 68 FINAL
Robert Morris 91
Long Island 70 FINAL
St Francis-NY 79
La Salle 50 FINAL
Saint Josephs 55
Providence 79 FINAL
Seton Hall 66
South Florida 74
Binghamton 57 FINAL
Stony Brook 62
Vermont 66
Sacred Heart 85 FINAL
Bryant 91
Richmond 56 FINAL
Massachusetts 53
Wake Forest 51 FINAL
Duke 94
Purdue 66 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Miami-Florida 67 FINAL
Pittsburgh 63
St Bonaventure 64 FINAL
Saint Louis 48
New Mexico St 69 FINAL
TX-Pan American 48
Houston 68 FINAL
Tulane 63
Howard 62 FINAL
Oklahoma State 82
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
Tulsa 47
Miss State 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Utah State 53 FINAL
Wyoming 76
St Johns 67 FINAL
Marquette 51
SIU Edwardsville 66 FINAL
Eastern Ill 78
Air Force 66 FINAL
Fresno State 68
Nebraska 57 FINAL
Illinois 69
Colorado State 78 FINAL
Nevada 62
Boise State 68 FINAL
San Jose St 51
San Diego St 60 FINAL
Oregon 65 FINAL
Oregon State 62
UC Santa Barbara 89 2nd Half 0:55
Hawaii 80
Toledo 64 FINAL
Northern Ill 68
Wake Forest 69 FINAL
Boston College 53
Eastern Illinois 35 FINAL
UT Martin 68
Austin Peay 69 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
NC State 56
Massachusetts 55 FINAL
St Bonaventure 49
Auburn 71 FINAL
Florida 49
Penn State 63 FINAL
Indiana 68
Clemson 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 80
Davidson 63 FINAL
La Salle 74
Loyola-Maryland 46 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Boston U 48 FINAL
Colgate 58
Coll of Charleston 58 FINAL
James Madison 107
Delaware 76 FINAL
Elon 77
Drexel 58 FINAL
Northeastern 42
Hofstra 75 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 76
Towson 56 FINAL
William & Mary 68
Miami-Ohio 55 FINAL
Akron 67
Ball State 85 FINAL
Central Michigan 69
Buffalo 55 FINAL
Bowling Green 47
Western Mich 65 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 74
Ohio U 69 FINAL
Kent State 56
Youngstown St 62 FINAL
Cleveland State 73
Illinois-Chicago 54 FINAL
Wright State 74
Alabama 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Detroit 60 FINAL
Milwaukee 56
Purdue 58 FINAL
Wisconsin 56
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question