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Grizzlies weather late Timberwolves’ surge

This news story was published on January 4, 2012.
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By Kent Youngblood, Star Tribune –

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Timberwolves entered Wednesday’s game at Target Center against Memphis on the heels of two victories in which the Wolves offense had hustled and flowed from start to finish, raining down three-pointers from all over.

This one was different.

(PHOTO: Anthony Randolph (15) of the Minnesota Timberwolves fights for a loose ball with the Memphis Grizzlies’ Quincy Pondexter, left, and Marc Gasol, right, in the second quarter at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.)

The three-pointers weren’t falling often enough. The ball, for much of the game, didn’t move so much. And while the Wolves fought back from an early 15-point hole and took a five-point lead early in the fourth quarter, they eventually fell to the Grizzlies 90-86.

Memphis ripped off a 13-0 run over the course of just under 5 minutes of the fourth quarter and the Wolves couldn’t counter in time. It included Wolves misses, Wolves turnovers, and an intentional foul by Luke Ridnour on Tony Allen that resulted in a four-point possession. By the time it ended the Grizzlies had a 76-68 lead midway through the quarter.

Not that there wasn’t drama.

Kevin Love hit a three-pointer with 1:45 left to draw the Wolves within 78-76. Minnesota got the ball back, but Anthony Tolliver’s turnover led to Allen’s fast break hoop with a minute left. Ricky Rubio’s three-pointer with 16.5 seconds left made it 84-83.

Mike Conley made two free throws at the other end. Love hit on a putback with 3.8 seconds left to pull the Wolves within a point.

Rudy Gay was fouled with 2.6 seconds left and made both free throws.

Coming out of a timeout, Ridnour was fouled. With 1.6 seconds left. He made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second but the Wolves were called for a lane violation trying to get the rebound.

The Wolves lost despite getting 27 points and 14 rebounds from Love. Rubio had 12 points and 10 assists. But Memphis scored 48 points in the paint—and this without Zach Randolph—and turned 17 Wolves turnovers into 23 points. Gay scored 19 points.

The Wolves came out cold, missing 11 of their first 12 shots, — and found themselves down 20-5 with 41/2 minutes left in the first quarter.

The rest of the half was played trying to catch up. And Rubio was a part of just about everything that went well for the rest of the half; he had eight assists in 17 minutes of play in the first half.

The Wolves pulled within 21-17 early in the second quarter when Rubio fed Derrick Williams for a three-pointer, but a spate of misses and turnovers allowed the Grizzlies to stretch the lead back to 35-23 when Conley drove past Rubio for an easy layup.

But, coming out of a timeout, the Wolves climbed back again.

Love drove the baseline, Rubio fed Anthony Randolph, then fed Beasley for a three-pointer. Eventually Love hit two free throws to pull the Wolves within 39-35. But the Grizzlies stretched the lead back to 43-35 thanks to more turnovers. Wayne Ellington’s jumper with 2 seconds left in the half made it 43-37 at halftime. At that point Memphis had turned 10 Wolves turnovers into 15 points and had scored 28 of their 43 points in the paint

Minnesota scored the first six points of the third quarter, and a Love three-pointer put the Wolves up for the first time, 46-43.

Memphis pushed back to a 57-54 lead on Sam Young’s put-back. But the Wolves finished out the quarter on a 5-0 run that started with Love free throw. Then Rubio fed Love for a slam. As the clock was ticking down Rubio beat Conley for a layup and a 59-57 lead.

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