Johnson's game-winner continues Timberwolves' losing skid

ATLANTA (AP) -- Joe Johnson wasn't exactly pleased with having to bail out the Atlanta Hawks.

"It's got to stop sooner or later, man," he said. "I honestly thought this was a 25-30 point win for us tonight."

Johnson's 18-footer at the buzzer lifted the Hawks to a 90-89 victory over the league-worst Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night.

Minnesota, which lost its fifth straight to drop to 2-15, had a one-point lead after Marko Jaric's layin with 2.2 seconds left.

"Two and a half seconds is a lot," Jaric said. "I'm upset right now. If we come out and play hard like we did in the last 40 minutes, our record will improve dramatically."

However, after an Atlanta timeout, Johnson took the ball at the top of the key and dribbled to his right past Timberwolves guard Sebastian Telfair and pulled up to shoot over Michael Doleac's outstretched arms.

An eight-point third quarter nearly doomed the Hawks.

"I just don't think we come out and warm up as hard, preparing ourselves for the second half," Johnson said. "When the third quarter starts we kind of get caught off guard. We've got to try to fight and get back in the game."

Despite having their reserves outscore Atlanta's by 46 points, the Timberwolves lost for the 22nd time in 24 games overall since winning at New York last April 6.

Josh Smith had 28 points and seven blocked shots to lead Atlanta. Johnson added 21 points, and Marvin Williams finished with 20.

"It came down to a game-winner," Smith said, "and it shouldn't have."

Minnesota rookie Corey Brewer had 18 rebounds, two more than Al Jefferson's previous season high in a loss to Atlanta on Nov. 24.

"We fought," Brewer said. "We made some plays. They made some plays. The last one to make a play came up with a win, but we kept bringing a lot of energy."

Craig Smith scored 20 points to lead the Timberwolves, who trailed by 19 in the first quarter but took their first lead on Jaric's layin with 1:45 left in the third.

Rashad McCants' three-point play gave Minnesota its biggest lead, 74-69, early in the fourth.

Jefferson, who had 17 points, was the only Timberwolves starter to score in double figures. His last basket, an 18-footer with 1 minute remaining, made it 85-85.

Craig Smith and Jaric combined for 38 points in reserve roles.

The lead changed hands five times in the final 46.7 seconds, but neither team was up by more than one point.

After Johnson hit two free throws to put the Hawks ahead 86-85, Jaric drove past Marvin Williams for an 87-86 lead for Minnesota.

Josh Smith responded by banking in a 12-footer from the left side to make it 88-87 with 7.5 seconds remaining.

The Timberwolves were trying to avenge a Nov. 24 loss to Atlanta in which they led by 21 points.

Injuries affected both teams. A strained groin forced Hawks guard Josh Childress to leave in the third quarter. Center Zaza Pachulia couldn't dress because of a concussion.

Minnesota played without Antoine Walker, their third-leading scorer, because of a sprained ankle.

Jaric was on the floor 39 minutes despite a sprained right foot and ankle. McCants played nearly 18 minutes with a sore knee.

Game notes
Minnesota coach Randy Wittman missed his second straight game after undergoing back surgery. Jerry Sichting is now 0-2 as Wittman's acting replacement. ... The Hawks have won six of seven against Minnesota, including five straight in Atlanta. ... Wittman and Hawks coach Mike Woodson are a combined 153-330 in the NBA. Both are in their fourth season, though Wittman spent two years with Cleveland before the Timberwolves hired him last January.


ESPN Fan Shop Powered By

  • adidas Youth Minnesota Timberwolves Ricky Rubio #9 Road Blue Replica JerseyShop

  • adidas Men's Atlanta Hawks Paul Millsap #4 Road Navy Replica JerseyPrice: $34.97 Shop

NBA News