NBA-Wolves blow 34-point lead, still top Hawks

Nov 9 (The Sports Xchange) - The Minnesota Timberwolves held on to end the Atlanta Hawks' seven-game winning streak and, in the process, they stopped a stretch of futility that went back 13 years.

Guard Andrew Wiggins scored 33 points, including eight down the stretch, and the Timberwolves won 117-107 despite letting a 34-point lead temporarily slip away.

"Those last minutes, Andrew was unbelievable," Minnesota interim coach Sam Mitchell said. "We tried to get the ball in his hands, and he was feeling it. ... He was amazing."

The Hawks (7-2) took a 107-106 lead on a basket by forward Paul Millsap, but Wiggins converted a three-point play with three minutes left, and the Timberwolves (4-2) pulled back away from there.

The Timberwolves had lost 12 straight in Atlanta since recording a 103-93 victory on Nov. 20, 2002.

Forward Kevin Garnett, in his 21st season, played in that game, but more than a few of his present Minnesota team mates were in elementary school at the time. It looked as if the Timberwolves' inexperience might prove costly.

Minnesota led 81-47 before the Hawks closed the third quarter on a 37-12 run behind 14 points by guard Jeff Teague to pull within 93-84 going into the fourth. Atlanta then kept up the comeback.

"We got frazzled," Mitchell said.

Wiggins, though, pulled the Timberwolves through as they improved to 4-0 on the road.

The reigning NBA Rookie of the Year sank 15 of 22 shots and got support from rookie center Karl-Anthony Towns, who finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots.

"We stayed confident," Towns said. "We just had to weather the storm."

Wiggins scored 31 points in an overtime victory at Chicago on Saturday, and he wouldn't be denied with the game on the line again.

"He was a superstar who wanted to end the game on his terms," Towns said when asked about Wiggins. "That's what I saw."

"He made plays after we were able to get up a point," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "He did a little bit of everything."

The Hawks, who scored 19 points off 10 Minnesota turnovers in the third-quarter rally, shot 72 percent in the third, with Teague going 6-for-8 and Millsap making all four of his shots.

"They were shooting the ball so well that I knew it was going to be tough to come all the way back," Teague said. "But we made it a dogfight."

Teague finished with 24 points and a game-high nine assists. Millsap added 22 points.

For the game, Minnesota shot 57.5 percent and Atlanta hit 51.2 percent from the floor. The Wolves compiled a 40-27 rebounding advantage.

The Timberwolves shot 63.8 percent and beat the Hawks 22-11 on the boards while building a 72-42 halftime lead.

"They came out playing very aggressively, and we came out without a lot of energy," said Hawks guard Kyle Korver, who was held to five points. "We're a team that has to play with a lot of energy, and we finally responded in the second half."

Asked what the difference was, Korver had a simple answer.

"You just get mad once you're embarrassed," he said.

(Compiled by Peter Rutherford)

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