Wiggins’ career night saves T-wolves from historic collapse
Andrew Wiggins was hoping he wouldn’t lose his shooting touch as the Atlanta Hawks kept pushing to wipe out a huge deficit.
"I was feeling it," he said. "My shot was falling. My teammates kept encouraging me, giving me the ball."
Wiggins tied a career high with 33 points, Karl-Anthony Towns added 17 and the Minnesota Timberwolves blew a 34-point lead before snapping the Hawks’ seven-game winning streak with a 117-107 victory on Monday night.
Atlanta never led until Paul Millsap’s runner with 3:26 remaining made it 107-106, but Wiggins scored the next seven points to prevent one of the biggest collapses in NBA history.
"Any team down is going to come back fighting," Wiggins said. "We knew that."
Minnesota led 72-42 at halftime. The largest halftime deficit overcome to win was 34 points by Utah against Denver on Nov. 27, 1996, according to research by STATS dating to the 1951-52 season.
Jeff Teague finished with 24 points and Millsap had 22 for the Hawks.
The Timberwolves avoided what would have been the franchise’s biggest blown lead in a loss. They led by 29 before falling to Dallas on Dec. 30, 2008.
"We kept coming in the huddle and saying that we’re going to win this game," Towns said. "We had all the confidence in the world that we would get it together."
It marked the first time in Wiggins’ two-year career that he’s had consecutive 30-point games. His 3-pointer early in the third made it 81-47.
Minnesota took its first 20-point lead midway through the second and went up 30 on Zach LaVine’s 3-pointer in the last minute of the period.
Atlanta was outrebounded 22-11 and had no offensive boards in the first half.
"I think to fight back from that kind of deficit shows the resiliency and character of the group," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "(There were) a lot of positives from how that group fought."
The Timberwolves’ 42 points in the second quarter and the Hawks’ 42 in the third tied for the second-highest of any quarter in the NBA this season.
Minnesota has its first four-game road winning streak since Jan. 3-19, 2009.
"It should tell you a lot," Wiggins said. "We’re focused in. We want to win. People don’t think we’re going to do anything this year. We want to surprise people."
Timberwolves: Kevin Martin, who began the game with a team-best 18.8 scoring average, finished with 13 points. He missed Saturday’s overtime win at Chicago because of a family matter. … Tayshaun Prince, a 14-year veteran, played over 38 minutes against the Bulls. He had four points and two rebounds in 24 minutes Monday. … LaVine scored 13 points.
Hawks: Budenholzer was exasperated with his team in the first half, even losing his temper at 13th-year veteran Kyle Korver for defending poorly on a pick-and-roll. Korver scored just five points, but banked in a runner with 5:35 left to cut the lead to one. "You’re down 30 points and you’re embarrassed," Korver said. "It happens. We played seven games in 10 days. We played really hard during that stretch, I thought."… Al Horford scored 14 points and Dennis Schroder had 12.
Hawks G Tim Hardaway Jr., acquired from New York for a first-round pick during the draft, still has yet to play for Atlanta. He’s dressed for five games and was inactive Monday for the fourth time. Budenholzer has said that Hardaway will get his chances, but right now is behind Justin Holliday and Lamar Patterson in the rotation.
Timberwolves F Adreian Payne didn’t play for the third time in five games. Minnesota traded for Payne, a first-round draft pick for Atlanta in 2014, last February.
Timberwolves: Host Charlotte on Tuesday.
Hawks: Host New Orleans on Wednesday.