stretch against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Jan. 14.
With Minnesota coming into Atlanta with a 4-7 overall record there was room for a letdown by the 8-4 Hawks. But with letdown averted, the Hawks defeated a scrappy Timberwolves team, 93-91, before a crowd of 13,135 at Philips Arena.
Minnesota ran out to a quick 9-2 lead on a Ricky Rubio 3-pointer and consecutive baskets by Kevin Love.
Rubio, a rookie, continued to keep the tempo up for the ‘Wolves. In just his 12th NBA game, Rubio finished the night with a double-double 18 points and 12 rebounds. Love led Minnesota with 30 points and 13 rebounds to keep the game close.
Turnovers plagued the Hawks in the first half. Atlanta committed 10 turnovers in the first two quarters that led to14 Minnesota points. Missed passes by both Smith and Williams, who just returned to the starting lineup after an injury, kept the Hawks from finding their offensive flow.
However, Atlanta fought back, outscoring Minnesota 29-24 in the second quarter after a 24-18 first-quarter deficit. The ‘Wolves managed an eight point lead midway through the second quarter as Love scored 15 first-half points, and five Atlanta turnovers subsequently assisted Minnesota with a 53-42 advantage at intermission.
Minnesota again started the second half by running their offense through Rubio and Love. The duo combined for 17 third-quarter points.
But once again the Hawks bench had to right the ship. Reserves Willie Green, making his first appearance of the night in the fourth quarter, made four of six shots, with two of those coming from 3-point range for 10 points.
“I got to get Atlanta out of that soft category”, said Johnson following the game.
Green tied the score at 84 with a jumper and following another Minnesota basket by shooting guard Wayne Ellington, scored again to tied the score at 86.
And with 1:26 remaining to play, Joe Johnson hit a 3-pointer, his third of the game, to put the Hawks up. Ivan Johnson made two free throws to give Atlanta a 93-91 lead, and a missed Love fall-away jumper with 2.3 seconds preserved the Hawks’ win .
Ivan Johnson also made a huge impact by scoring 10 points and grabbing 11 rebounds while Jeff Teague finished with 20 points and 10 assists for the Hawks. Joe Johnson finished with a team-high 25.