Williams returns after blow; mascot doesn't

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 21, 2013 - 11:34 PM

Wolves forward Derrick Williams (7)

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune file

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ATLANTA - The Timberwolves entered Monday's game with six players injured and one not feeling well.

The Hawks countered with four of their own injured as well. And then even their mascot got hurt during a 104-96 comeback victory.

Philips Arena employees wheeled a stretcher out after the first quarter, when high-flying, masked mascot SkyHawk hurtled through the air off a trampoline ... and ended up motionless underneath the basket after throwing down a thunderous dunk in which his wing -- or elbow, perhaps -- appeared to get caught in the hoop.

"It seems like whoever is around Timberwolves gets hurt," Wolves guard Ricky Rubio quipped afterward.

SkyHawk was helped off the court without needing that stretcher, but Wolves forward Derrick Williams went into halftime hurting under that very same basket after he finished the second quarter with a thunderous dunk of own.

Williams said he got the wind knocked out of him by a hit in the stomach, but replays appeared to show the contact from a contesting Hawks player was a bit lower than that.

Williams played on in the second half and was just fine, even if the Hawks mascot wasn't.

"I guess it's whenever we play something's going to happen," Williams said. "It's going to be an injury somehow, whether it's to our team, the mascot or something like that."

Feeling better

Wolves forward Dante Cunningham didn't look or sound well before the game, but said he felt fine after missing Saturday's victory over Houston because he was too ill to play.

Then he went out and played more than 25 minutes, scored 13 points and was called for a flagrant foul type 1 with 3 minutes, 7 seconds left in the game for a hard foul contesting a Jeff Teague layup. The two free throws and ensuing possession turned a four-point Atlanta lead into an eight-point one.

Cunningham got some of the ball, but was called for the flagrant foul after Teague went sprawling and landed hard. Officials reviewed the play and upheld their call.

"I thought he had some hand on the ball and if that was the case, I didn't think it was a flagrant," acting Wolves coach Terry Porter said. "I'll have to take a look at it."

Upon further review ...

Officials went back in the fourth quarter after play continued on for more than a minute and overturned a Williams dunk at the shot-clock buzzer with 9 1/2 minutes left. A seven-point lead became a five-point lead that quickly disappeared.

"Not that big of a difference, but we could have used those two points at the end of the game," Williams said. "I didn't see the replay or see how close it was. It didn't change the game. We still lost by seven. It does take a little bit of our rally away, but at the end of the day we lost by more than two points."

Celebrating the day

Atlanta reserve Anthony Tolliver addressed Monday's "crowd" before the game, with a short welcome in which the former Wolves forward talked about the meaning of Martin Luther King Day.

That was just part of the ceremonies Monday to honor the slain civil rights leader in his own hometown.

"It's just all about the sacrifices he made and many people in that generation made," Porter said. "So to play a game on his day is to honor him. I think it does mean more to have it in Atlanta. That's where he started."


• Porter coached his eighth consecutive game for absent coach Rick Adelman, who remains away from the team to be with his wife, Mary Kay, who has been hospitalized in the Twin Cities. Porter said the team will reassess the situation after it returns home and left open the possibility that Adelman could rejoin the team yet for games remaining this week.

• Some of the Wolves and Hawks wore special edition Nike shoes -- camouflage-y with neon orange laces and accents -- for Monday's game.

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