Both the Hawks and Timberwolves entered Wednesday’s game on a three-game losing streak, but it was Minnesota who avoided a fourth straight loss by manhandling Atlanta 107-83 on Wednesday.
Five players scored in double-figures for the T’wolves, led by Corey Brewer and Kevin Martin who had 18 points and three steals each. All-Star power forward Kevin Love and rookie center Gorgui Dieng both posted double-doubles, as Love finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds while Dieng continued his stellar stretch of play and finished with 15 points and 15 boards. Chase Budinger had 12 points off the bench.
Dieng has been playing in place of injured big man Nikola Pekovic, who has missed the last six games with a sore right ankle. During that span, including Wednesday’s game against Atlanta, Dieng has five double-doubles and is averaging 12.6 points and 14 rebounds per game.
The lead changed five times in the first quarter with the final time being when Brewer hit a buzz-beater to give Minnesota a 20-19 edge. Shockingly, that turned out to be last lead change of the game. The Timberwolves only padded their advantage from that point on until the game ended in a blowout.
Atlanta fought hard to keep it close throughout the second period, but Brewer delivered another costly blow with another bucket before the buzzer, this time to end the half and put the T’wolves up 48-41.
The Hawks had one last punch left and cut the score to three points at the 9:00 mark in the third on back-to-back layups by Mike Scott, however Minnesota wore them out from that point on and ended the period with a 14-point lead.
It was smooth sailing from then on, as the T’wolves went on to add 10 more points to their already insurmountable advantage and won the game 107-83.
Scott led Atlanta with 15 points. He started at small forward due to the absence of Kyle Korver, who missed his fourth straight game due to back spasms. Paul Millsap had 12 points and 10 rebounds, while DeMarre Carroll (11) and Lou Williams (10) were also in double-figures. Jeff Teague was held scoreless. He was 0-of-5 from the field in just 19 minutes of action.
The Hawks are still clinging onto that coveted final playoff spot in the East, but only by a slim two-game margin over the New York Knicks.
Atlanta has a quick turnaround from Wednesday’s game at Minnesota as they will return home to host the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday.