Rick Adelman looked down at the boxscore. For a long moment, as if to let it sink in. Then he looked up. “Just terrific,” the Wolves coach said. “Just unbelievable.”
Ricky Rubio, sitting exhausted in a chair in front of his locker, thought for a moment. And then: “No words,” he said.
This is why it’s sometimes worth watching a game that wouldn’t otherwise matter.
Friday at Target Center, with Kevin Love’s hyperextended right elbow adding to an already lengthy injury list, with the Wolves down three starters and out of the playoffs, Corey Brewer happened.
In front of an announced crowd of 16,689 fans that got louder as the game went on, Brewer had the kind of night they’ll talk about for a while in a 112-110 victory over the Houston Rockets.
Attacking from the start, running the break with an energy level that nobody could quite comprehend, Brewer scored 51 points, tied for the most in franchise history, the most ever in a nonovertime game. He scored 16 points in the first quarter. He had 10 in the second and in the third, when the Rockets, having caught up, threatened to clean up.
And he had 15 in a magnificent fourth quarter in which neither team blinked.
“I wasn’t keeping track,” said Brewer, who hit 19 of 30 shots, 11 of 15 free throws and had six steals and a block. Brewer was talking well past an hour after the game because he had to take a random drug test first. “But then [Kevin Martin] said, ‘You can join the club.’ He and Kevin Love both have scored 50. ‘You want to come join the club?’ he asked. I guess I joined the club.’’
“I would say that’s a pretty good game,” Adelman said.
Brewer wasn’t the only hero. Dante Cunningham, Rubio and Gorgui Dieng had double-doubles. Dieng, the rookie center whose game is growing faster than a Brewer fast break, hit a 6-footer with 4.6 seconds left to seal the win, bringing the fans out of their seats one final time.
“It was only two points,” he said, grinning, after he had scored 12 points with 20 rebounds. “The most important thing was to win the game.’’
The Rockets (52-27), without starting center Dwight Howard and guard Patrick Beverley, weren’t giving in. James Harden had 33 points on only 14 shots. Chandler Parsons had 27, Jeremy Lin 14.
The Wolves (40-39) led by a point with 3:33 left after a Harden basket. Brewer was fouled and made two free throws with 3:21 left. After a Lin miss, Brewer scored on the break again for a five-point lead. But Lin’s three and Parsons’ dunk tied the score.
Then it got interesting. Fouled with 1:43 left, Brewer went to the line and, with the crowd offering a standing ovation, hit both free throws to join the club.
Fast-forward to Dieng. With 17.3 seconds left Harden’s three-pointer tied it at 110. Adelman didn’t call timeout, letting his guys play. And win in a game that really didn’t matter.
Or did it?
“It’s been frustrating,” said Brewer, who had 26 points at halftime after banking in a half-court three at the buzzer. “We felt like we should have been in the playoffs. To give the fans something to cheer about means a lot.”
Not to mention something to remember. “Everybody saw what happened,” Rubio said. “Video game. Seemed like he had energy forever. He never stopped.”