The Washington Wizards went into Minnesota trying to get their first sweep of the Minnesota Timberwolves since 2008-09, but they fell short without rookie guard Bradley Beal, who missed the game due to a badly sprained ankle he suffered in the fourth quarter of Washington's last game. The Wizards committed a season-high in turnovers and went cold in the final three quarters of the game to lose a closely-fought game 87-82. The loss drops Washington's record to 19-40.
The Wizards got off to a 29-24 lead after one quarter, thanks to a hot start from John Wall, who had 10 points on 4-4 on FG and 2-2 on FT in first quarter. However, things went south from there, with Washington shooting just 4-15 [26%] shooting in 2nd quarter. The Wizards managed only 14 points in the second quarter, while Minnesota outscored the Wizards18-8 in the last few minutes of the 2nd quarter and took a 48-43 lead into halftime.
Washington got only 3 points from the bench in the first half and only John Wall's 12 points and Trevor Ariza's 16 points kept the game close.
Unfortunately for Washington, Ariza didn't score a point in the second half and Wall would miss 8 of his last 11 shots, finishing 7 of 15 for 19 points. Wall racked up 7 assists, but also 6 turnovers and did not respond well to the harassment he received from Ricky Rubio and JJ Barea.
The Wizards committed 12 turnovers by halftime and would equal that amount in the second half, easily the biggest reason Washington lost to an injury-devastated Timberwolves team that had lost 6 straight coming into tonight. After the game, a disgusted Wizards coach Randy Wittman said: "We just don't value the ball at all... Almost half their points were off turnovers."
Things seem to turn around somewhat for the Wizards in the third quarter, as they outscored Minnesota 20-17 and hardly turned the ball over at all. After three Minnesota's lead had been shaved to 65-63.
Wiz scored first 10 points of fourth quarter to take a 73-65 lead before the Timberwolves came storming back with a free throw and then a 3-pointer by Barea. Wizards turnovers allowed Minnesota to narrow the gap to 73-71 before Martell Webster responded with a short 7-foot bucket. However, the T-Wolves came back and scored again and then forced yet another turnover by the Wizards and drew a foul, converting the two free throws to cut the lead to 75-74.
Kevin Seraphin came back with a shot at the top of the key -- I would have thought it out of his range -- to put the Wiz up by three, but JJ Barea hit another 3-pointer to tie the game at 77 with 5:15 to play. However, Seraphin hit a short jumper to put the Wiz back up by 2. Seraphin had now hit his first four shots of the game. On the other end, Barea drove around the key and angled toward the basket for the layup, but Seraphin responded by shifting over to protect the hoop and he swatted Barea's shot into the first row behind the basket. However, Dante Cunningham scored moments later and the game was tied at 79.
Seraphin missed a mid-range jumper from the corner and Barea came back with a layup off the glass to put the Timberwolves up by two. On offense, Minnesota trapped Nene in a double team and he committed an offensive foul to get free, turning the ball over. It was Washington's 23rd turnover of the game, a new season-high. Seconds later, Nene picked up his fifth personal foul on defense with 3:15 left in the fourth quarter. Derrick Williams hit both free throws to put Minnesota up by four and they seemed to be pulling away on an 18-6 run during that five minute stretch. On the other end, Minnesota's terrific defense forced a travel by Okafor. That was Washington's 6th turnover of the fourth quarter and 24th of the game.
A minute later Okafor got a dunk off a loose ball to cut the leadto 83-82. The Wizards forced a miss by Dante Cunningham, but Nene missed a shot from the top of the key. The ball sailed out of bounds and the ball was originally awarded to the Timberwolves, but a second ref asked for a replay, which clearly showed Dante Cunningham as the lats player to touch the ball before it went out of bounds. The call was reversed and Washington retained possession. However, Wall missed a wide-open 3-pointer and the T-Wolves had the ball with less than a minute to play.
Rubio's layup attempt was blocked by Okafor, but Barea stripped Wall of the ball at midcourt and layed the ball in for a 3-point lead, 85-82.
The Wizards got to this point by playing sloppy ball due to pressure from Minnesota guards and nothing changed on the next possession. Rubio disrupted a pass, almost leading to a turnover. The Wizards did not have to have a three point attempt at that point, but Ariza put up a completely hopeless, no-look desperation 3-pointer with 11 seconds left on the shot clock. The ball missed everything and Nene leapt up to smack the ball out to a Wizards player, but he hit the ball too hard and it sailed out of bounds.
From that point it was just a matter of Minnesota hitting a couple of foul shots to seal the win 87-82. The Wizards looked to be in control of the game early in the fourth quarter, but they went back to sloppy ball-handling and lost the game as a result, getting outscored 22-9 in last 8 and a half minutes of the game.