The Heat didn't have injured Dwyane Wade tonight.

The Wolves once again had Darko.

Nuff said?

The Wolves led by 17 in the second quarter and by 10 with little more than three minutes left, then withstood a 10-1 Miami run and hung on to win when Daequan Cook's leaning three that would have won the game missed at the final buzzer.

The most interesting bit as the Wolves work their way toward this summer, when they'll have multiple first-round picks and money to spend:

For the second straight game, Darko Milicic was on the floor at game's end while Big Al watched.

Against Oklahoma City Sunday, it was the final four minutes.

Tonight, it was all but about a minute in the game's final 15 minutes, when Milicic played beside Kevin Love and Kurt Rambis said with a unit that included Corey Brewer, Damien WIlkins or Wayne Ellington and Ramon Sessions or Jonny Flynn.

"I think I've been very consistent all year," Rambis said. "If there's a unit out there on the floor playing well, I've kept them out there."

When Milicic, playing 24 minutes in just his second game in more than three months, and others began to tire with about five minutes left, Rambis started taking timeouts to give them a breather.

Afterward, Rambis praised Milicic for two things:

Wanting to get defensive stops.

Moving the ball on offense.


"There were times when he was confused offensively, just becuase he doesn't know the sequences," Rambis said. "Because he understands basketball, he works his way through it."

It's only two games, but it's sort of startling the impact an out-of-shape 7-foot who wanted to be home in Serbia by now has had for the Wolves defensively.

He blocked three shots tonight -- two of them in the fourth quarter -- and altered others.

"We've talked all season about how small we are as a ballclub," Rambis said. "He just adds a dimension we don't have. Ryan Hollins is very active and he's long, but he just doesn't have the savvy, the experience that Darko has defensively. We feel Ryan can get there at some point in time, but he has a lot to learn.

"Darko has that. He understands that. He really has a defensive mindset. That's who he is as a basketball player."

Jefferson was out of the locker room quickly tonight, before I had the chance to talk to him.

I asked Love about the impact Milicic has had in these two games.

"The way he moves," Love said. "He's left-handed, too. I keep mentioning how unorthodox he is. That helps a lot. He gets out to shooters. He rotates on defense. It really helps us out a lot. Blocked shots. Big rebounds. Made a couple of hook shots for us."

A couple other notes from tonight:

Corey Brewer's three pointer in the second quarter extended his consecutive-game streak to 22, a franchise record. He was tied with Isaiah Rider at 21 coming into tonight's game.

Brewer's streak is the third longest current one in the NBA, behind only Houston's Aaron Brooks (28) and Denver's Chauncey Billups (25). He's tied with Dallas'  Jason Kidd at 22.

* Former NBA star Isiah Thomas stopped by Jonny Flynn's dinner table in Miami Monday night and the two point guards talked ball for about 10 minutes.

"He told me to make sure you always put pressure on the defense," Flynn said. "Sometimes when you're young coming into the NBA, you don't know how to play defense yet. So he says the best defense sometimes could be your offense. If that guy's always thinking in the back of his mind that he has to stop you, it could take him out of his offensive game.

:"Even if you're  pushing the ball up the court and not even looking to score, it just puts pace in the game."

Flynn said Thomas' words inspired him to attack more Tuesday, which could explain his five turnovers (out of the team's 20) and also his explosive driving layup with 38 seconds left that repelled the Heat after they got within a single point.

Wolves flew to Atlanta after tonight's game for the second half of a back-to-back, Wednesday night against the Hawks.

They made it into town before snow is expected to hit Atlanta. Looks like my flight in the morning already is delayed two hours.

Wish me luck.